When Andrew Drayton, a collector of jewellery, is found stabbed to death and the young woman who tried to stop the murderer is wounded, Dr Thorndyke is called in to investigate. But although the scene of the crime seems awash with the fingerprints of the attacker, there may be good reason why the police can't trace the killer. But t only are the facts of the case proving to be vexing but the discovery of a secret chamber and its sinister contents help to reveal that this is ordinary murder and ordinary murderer is behind it.
Deemed 'the father of the scientific detective story', Richard Austin Freeman enjoyed a prolific career that saw him gain qualifications as pharmacist and surgeon, pull off a diplomatic coup along the Gold Coast, work for Holloway Prison and then become a formidable writer of fiction. He was born in London, the son of a tailor who went on to train as a pharmacist. After graduating as a surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital Medical College, Freeman taught for a while and then joined the colonial service, offering his skills as an assistant surgeon along the Gold Coast of Africa. He became embroiled in a diplomatic mission when a British expeditionary party was sent to investigate the activities of the French. Through his tact and formidable intelligence, a massacre was narrowly avoided. His future was therefore assured in the colonial service. However, after becoming ill with black-water fever, Freeman was sent back to England to recover and finding his finances precarious, embarked on a career as acting physician in Holloway Prison. In desperation, he also turned to writing where he went on to dominate the world of British detective fiction, taking pride in testing different criminal techniques. So keen was he, part of one of his best novels was written in a bomb shelter. For the first twenty-five years of his writing career, Freeman was to dominate and remain unrivalled in the world of detective fiction, introducing the well-loved and highly memorable 'Dr Thorndyke'. The continued success of this character has affirmed Richard Austin Freeman's place amongst the finest of crime writers.