Thursday, February 3, 2011

Martin Hewitt, Investigator

Martin Hewitt, Investigator
Arthur Morrison
originally published 1894
3/5 stars

Martin Hewitt, Investigator is a series of short stories linked by the protagonist, Martin Hewitt, and written down by a good friend, the journalist Brett. The similarities to Doyle's Holmes are striking and most likely intentional. Doyle had killed off Holmes in 1893 and other writers were looking to fill that void.

Unlike Holmes, however, Martin Hewitt runs an investigative business, is a very personable gentleman, works well with the police force and easily makes friends. Add to this his ingenious ability for disguise and fluidity in thieves cant and in Mr. Hewitt you have an investigator that is able to blend in anywhere and solve the most intriguing of crimes.

In Martin Hewitt, Investigator, Brett gives the details of several of Hewitt's most renowned cases, many of which he was intimately involved with as well. They are tales of impossible to solve crimes that Hewitt was able to crack by piecing together a few clues (a burnt out match, raindrops on a hat, un-capitalized letters in a note) where the police detectives had failed.

While the solutions to these various crimes and mysteries do fit together well with the evidence and clues, the reader is not privy to all the information that Hewitt is (as he doesn't share it with Brett). Hewitt then chides Brett (or the police) for not having seen such and such clue and then builds his entire case on that missed bit of information. Morrison uses this ploy to make the solving seem even more spectacular, but this style patronizes the reader and is not a fully satisfying reading experience.

~~Read for the Victorian Literature Challenge.~~

Note: This is my opinion; on Amazon, 50% of the reviews were 5 stars.


  1. It takes a certain flair to write a good mystery story and few are brilliant like Doyle or Christie. Having hidden clues spring to life is kind of a cop-out and happens all the time. Still it sounded interesting if just for the historical value.
    Have a great day Gypsy!

  2. It was interesting, and I still enjoyed it, I just prefer a mystery (like Dame Christie's) where the clues really ARE there for the reader to see. Doyle was, to me, guilty of the same thing, having Holmes pull information about the types of bicycle tyre treads (just as an example) to solve a case, when the reader didn't have access to that. The author I read recently (also Victorian, though American) Anna Catherine Green was simply fantastic about giving the reader the clues, slowly, and making the reader continually reassess the situation. If you get stuck and need another author sometime, try her Leavenworth Case!

  3. Always looking for a great mystery. Thanks for the review.

  4. Mysteries have always been my favorite and when it comes to challenges I really have to watch myself or that's all I'll read. :P