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At first glance it looked like a simple bullion robbery, but Thorndyke's investigations reveal that nothing is as it first appeared. Read by William Gaminara.

John Thorndyke, barrister and doctor of medicine, possesses an armoury of skills that equip him as the first scientifically plausible "forensic" detective. R. Austin Freeman, his creator, was himself a medic with an extensive knowledge of forensic medicine, and the solutions to the puzzles are completely plausible. In fact the scientific detail and authenticity of Thorndyke's investigations go much further than anything in the Holmes stories, though Freeman was happy to acknowledge his debt to Arthur Conan Doyle:

"A fellow doctor, Conan Doyle, had made a brilliant and well-deserved success by the creation of the immortal Sherlock Holmes. Considering that achievement, I asked myself whether it might not be possible to devise a detective story of a slightly different kind; one based on the science of Medical Jurisprudence, in which, by the sacrifice of a certain amount of dramatic effect, one could keep entirely within the facts of real life, with nothing fictitious excepting the persons and the events. I came to the conclusion that it was, and began to turn the idea over in my mind."

Thorndyke's work-life stretches over four decades from the early 1900s until the Second World War, a period during which Freeman wrote more than 20 novels and several collections of short stories, from which the six in this series are selected.

The reader William Gaminara is best known as pathologist Leo Dalton in the BBC's long-running series 'Silent Witness'.

Producer: John Taylor

Made for BBC Radio 4 Extra by Fiction Factory and first broadcast in 2013.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 30 Jan 2016 01:00