Saturday, July 6, 2013

From Whose Bourne

From Whose Bourne  -  1893
Robert Barr
95 pages
genre  - Mystery
my rating  -  3 out of 5 stars

"The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns"
The Tragedy of Hamlet  Act III Scene 1

To explain the title of the book, the undiscover'd country that Shakespeare was referring to is heaven or hell, and a bourn is an old English word meaning a small stream; a brook.

William Brenton and his wife, Alice, have been married for 6 months now.  They invited some friends and acquaintances over for a Christmas Eve dinner.  During the dinner, Will started feeling unwell.  He decided to go lay down for a while.  A while later, Alice goes upstairs to check on her husband.

"How are you feeling, Will? any better?"

"A little," he answered drowsily. "Don't worry about me; I shall drop off to sleep presently, and shall be all right in the morning. Good night."

But Will isn't okay. 

At a point during the story a famous French detective is called in to investigate a crime.  Monsieur Lecoq is the creation of Émile Gaboriau, a 19th-century French writer and journalist, who is considered to be a pioneer of modern detective fiction.

In the book Lecoq says "attention to trivialities [is] the whole secret of the detective business."

About the author  -

Robert Barr was born on September 16, 1849  in Glasgow, Scotland.  He emigrated with his parents to Canada at age four and was educated in Toronto at Toronto Normal School. Barr became a teacher and eventual headmaster of the Central School of Windsor, Ontario.

While he had that job he began to contribute short stories to the Detroit Free Press. In 1876 Barr quit his teaching position to become a staff member of that publication, in which his contributions were published with the pseudonym "Luke Sharp."  Barr eventually became its news editor.

In 1881 Barr relocated to London, England, to establish there the weekly English edition of the Detroit Free Press.  In 1892 he founded the magazine The Idler, choosing Jerome K. Jerome as his collaborator. 

Robert Barr died from heart disease on October 21, 1912, at his home in Woldingham, a small village to the southeast of London.  Arthur Conan Doyle described Barr as "a volcanic Anglo—or rather Scot-American, with a violent manner, a wealth of strong adjectives, and one of the kindest natures underneath it all."

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