Four Max Carrados Detective Stories - Ernest Bramah 2.75 stars

So, how do you one-up Sherlock Holmes, the sleuth who seems to know everything and is never, ever (well hardly ever) wrong? Make your detective blind of course! Ernest Bramah went ahead and did that with his character Max Carrados, a man blinded during an unfortunate riding accident whose amateur interest in sleuthing is fulfilled when an old school friend, who also happens to run his own detective agency, shows up at his door after being told said Carrados could help him with a little niggling problem in a case he’s been working on. The rest, as they say, is history. Our modified Watson and Holmes (with the subsequent addition of one more to the team) are introduced and ready to sleuth.

So the big question is: how does a blind detective prove himself to be the apparent equal to the ever-observant Holmes when he can’t see? Well, it appears as though his other sense have become so sharpened by his loss of sight that he can smell, hear, and feel things that other investigators miss by relying too much on their sight. I can readily believe that the blind do have an entire world of sensation opened up to them by being forced to rely on their non-visual senses, but Carrados’ abilities do seem to veer into the realm of the unbelievable from time to time (unless he secretly shares Matt Murdock’s radar-sense of course). This is somewhat compensated for by the fact that Carrados’ trusty butler Parkinson has been trained to be photographically observant and he often accompanies his employer on excursions.

The trio of Carrados, Parkinson and Carlyle (Carrados’ detective friend) form the group of protagonists who solve the four mysteries in this volume. To be fair it is Carrados who does all of the heavy lifting by virtue of his sharpened senses and voluminous knowledge about miniscule data that ends up proving integral to the cases he is on, with some assistance by trusty Parkinson. Carlyle’s primary role seems to be to act as the conduit through which these mysteries are brought to Carrados’ attention and secondarily to be amazed at Carrados’ abilities. All in all the stories are enjoyable, but often seem a bit rushed and ‘same-y’. They didn’t, for me at least, have anything like the appeal of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories in which the characters are as interesting as the mystery being solved. Not a waste of time by any means, but maybe wait until you run out of Doyle stories before coming to these.