Ashton-Kirk, Investigator

March 5, 2007

I’m starting a ‘stupid leaps of logic’ category for books like this one: Ashton-Kirk, Investigator, by John T. McIntyre. It gets points for the fun illustrations, though.

Until you read the Conan Doyle imitators who were roughly his contemporaries, you can’t understand how reasonable, comparatively, Sherlock Holmes is. Ashton-Kirk is clearly based on Holmes, and yet…

He’s one of those young, aristocratic cultured gentlemen. And yes, his eyes are piercing, and his fabulous house is in a bad neighborhood, and he’s irritatingly cryptic, but it’s all part of the formula.

Ashton-Kirk’s good friend Jimmie Pendleton introduces his cousin, Miss Edyth Vale, to the detective. She’s clearly troubled. Her fiance, Allan Morris, is devoted to her, but he keeps putting off their wedding, and something is weighing on his mind. Edyth investigates a name Morris has let drop — Hume — and finds that it belongs to an art dealer with an evil face. When Hume turns up dead the night after Ashton-Kirk meets Edyth, he naturally investigates.

The police are apparently very happy to have A-K’s help, so he looks at Hume’s house and announces to Pendleton that one of the murderers is a short, well-dressed mute who knows shorthand. Yeah, this isn’t one of those mysteries where the solution is obvious, but it’s not one of the ones you can figure out on your own with the help of clues, either. Ashton-Kirk’s big breakthrough comes when he figures out that Allan Morris’ father knew Hume. A-K had a hunch that they did, because they were both heavy drinkers. Because naturally two heavy drinkers in New York City would know each other.


  1. I have a book called Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, collecting short stories about other contemporary detectives. I’ve never gotten around to reading much of it. Holmes became immortal because he had style, which is more than I can say for a fair number of these characters.

    One of the reasons I love the Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu shorties is that Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, the heroes, are soooo dumb. They’re very serious and they think of themselves as being much brighter than they actually are. In most of the stories they manage to stymie Fu without ever fully grasping all of what he was up to; they win by realizing something is important to Fu (without necessarily knowing why) and keeping it from him, or causing him some sort of professional embarrassment that shames him into withdrawing. I think the virulent “yellow peril” racism of the stories is easier to take because it largely manifests as Fu being both vastly more competent and far more honorable than his white opponents, and he loses not because he’s foolish, but because Smith is such a bonehead that he gets in the way of Fu’s clockwork schemes.

  2. Holmes definitely had style, and it sort of puzzles me because Conan Doyle sort of didn’t. I mean, I love his books, but he’s more of a Watson than a Holmes himself. I was watching one of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Holmes movies last night, and thinking about how Holmes is a character who can always transcend what’s actually written or shown.

    The Fu Manchu stories sound like a lot of fun, and I see that PG has a few, so I will check them out.

  3. […] of the books is available online. Follow the link above. About Ashton-Kirk, I’ve found a blogger who has […]

  4. LOL. I read this one a couple months ago. I keep meaning to go back to the other Ashton-Kirk book, but haven’t yet. It’s so endearingly Sherlock light. :)

    • Which other one? I started reading one of the others last winter and I found it incredibly boring and couldn’t even get halfway through.

      • It’s Ashton-Kirk, Criminologist. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/30838

        I haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet, but hopefully I’ll get around to it before TOO long!

    • That’s the one I started and couldn’t get through, although I’m not sure if it was the book’s fault or mine.

      • Hmmm. Now I really want to read it and find out how bad it is :)

        • :D You’ll have to let me know.

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