As a young kid, my absolute favorite reads were Encyclopedia Brown books. I devoured them. For those unacquainted with Encyclopedia Brown, he was a middle-school aged boy genius who went around solving mysteries in his neighbourhood, a la Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys, but he did it using pure Sherlock Holmes-style deductions. Each book was a collection of individual mysteries, but the twist was that each was written in a solve-it-yourself style. Each story contained everything the reader needed to solve the mystery, and the stories would end before E. Brown revealed the solution. The reader had a chance to solve the crimes, then look at the back of the book to see if they were correct.
The File on Fenton & Farr is a like a great big, grown up, Encyclopedia Brown story! Everything the reader needs, as they follow the police investigation of a double homicide set up to look like a suicide pact. Police reports, memos, telegrams, ticket stubs, notes, even a tiny sample tube of lipstick!
The story is very neatly done and not at all easy; every suspect had a motive and an alibi and none of the clues were anything out of the ordinary. Patrick did a brilliant job writing out all of this material without being dry or overstepping the bounds of realism. Each member of the police force exhibits enough personality to keep the reader turning the pages.
It was amazing. And I'm not just saying that because I WAS RIGHT! Woot! Somebody get me a badge! ::grin::
I was extraordinarily lucky to get this book; it was a monstrous splurge on my part when I bought it, far and away more money than I ever spend on a book, but I'd read about these publications and was dying to see if all these years reading mysteries had done me any good. I am so, so glad I splurged. This book is special and I can only imagine the amount of grief it caused its publishers back in 1937 to put it together.
Now, it's MT's turn to see if he can solve the mystery; I've put my solution in a sealed envelope and we'll compare notes afterwards. I'm not betting against him...