Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday's Tomes: Vintage Book Review: The Mystery of the Hansom Cab plus photos of historic Melbourne

My love of vintage goes beyond collecting (and DH!) and includes reading and/or actually listening to vintage books. At Librivox.org I have an unlimited supply of audiobooks to feed my habit…and they’re all free.(All Librivox books are in the public domain.)

I thought I’d start a new regular feature on my blog. I’ll report on my latest vintage read on Tuesdays and call it Tuesday’s Tomes.

I’d love it if you’d like to join in and tell about a vintage or new book that you’ve enjoyed so I’m thinking of adding a Linky at the bottom. How does that sound? Think it a good idea? I think the best book recommendations come from friends.

The first book I would like to tell you about is The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume.

Written in 1886 this self-published first novel by Fergus Hume went on to become an international best seller and he a best selling author…and it is easy to understand why. A compelling mystery, sympathetic characters and just enough hints to keep you guessing about what hasn’t been revealed yet make for a fun read. There’s a wonderful additional bonus: an introduction to 19th century Melbourne with lots of place and street names.

The book opens, “The following report appeared in the Argus newspaper of Saturday, the 28th July, 18- Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this saying.”

And we’re off…

The facts of the murder are told through reports in the Argus, and by the testimony at the inquest (beautifully written-you really feel that you’re sitting in court!). We soon meet Mr. Gorby, the detective and Mrs. Hableton, the murdered man’s (“all men are brutes”)landlady and while its not until the 7th chapter that we are introduced to our hero and heroine, Brian Fitzgerald and Madge Fettlby, we have already been immersed in the real hero of this book: Melbourne: from Russell and Collins to St. Kilda and off to Powlett Street we tour old Melbourne.

I totally loved this book and highly recommend it. (Spoiler alert! don’t read the author’s preface). This librivox audiobook was entertainingly read by Sibella Denton.

And to get you in the mood, here are some pictures of historic Melbourne.

The Argus Building: from where our first news of the murder emanates...
The Burke and Wills Monument: where the hansom cab picked up its passenger...
Fitzroy Gardens: where an important clue is found.

You can download this free audiobook here or download the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.


Heather said...

Hi Miri,
I download the MP3 for the book and unzipped the file. NOw I'll wait till daughter gets home to ask her how to put it on my ipod. Thanks for the pointer.

Bebesboutique said...

Thank you thank you for the tips and link to Librivox.org I love to listen to books while I exercise and now can get one of the kids to put them on a mp3 player for me.

em's scrapbag said...

Thanks for the link. I love the idea of linky for book recomendations.

Ulla said...

I love reading old books from my parent's library, but sometimes they are not very interesting. I love how they look and feel in my hands, so I have not yet tried audio books other than children's books for the kids.
I'm currently reading the Swallows and Amazons adventure series by Arthur Ransome, written in 1930's/40's for children.

Susan said...

This sounds like fun. I am fond of old books for their look and feel but there are many of the classics I still love to read. I may have to join in sometime.