Matthew Booth is the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Giant’s Hand and one of the authors contributing to Further Exploits of Sherlock Holmes. He is an author in the MX Publishing Undershaw Preservation project, having contributed to their anthologies of new Sherlock Holmes stories.
Matthew was a scriptwriter for the American radio network, Imagination Theater, syndicated by Jim French Productions, contributing particularly to their series: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
When Anthony Rathe Investigates
The original Anthony Rathe stories of courtroom criminal cases appeared on American public radio, syndicated by the late Jim French through his Imagination Theater. When Anthony Rathe Investigates continues where the radio stories finished.
Prosecuting criminal cases, barrister Anthony Rathe convinced a jury to imprison an innocent man, who subsequently took his own life. Horrified at his mistake, Rathe abandons his glittering legal career, vowing to truly serve justice. A series of cases come his way.
These four stories, linked by how Rathe is racked with guilt over the suicide, explore crime from a different angle: determination to find the truth, no matter how inconvenient to the investigating officer, Inspector Cook. The reader is invited to join Rathe in solving these complex mysteries.
The first story, Burial for the Dead, exposes sordid family history that led to a murder in a church. In A Question of Proof, Inspector Cook needs Rathe to unravel an underworld murder; in Ties that Bind Rathe solves a crime of passion; and in The Quick and the Dead, modern slavery intrudes into his own personal life.
This had a perfect balance of deduction and soul searching to make the main character compelling. The mysteries were well written with refreshing style.
Bridgit Davis, South Africa
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Short form crime fiction is difficult. The author cannot rely on red herrings, a host of possible suspects, or deeply technical sleuthing. The scene, character and plot must come immediately. The four novellas of this book are masterpieces of their kind.
Meet Anthony Rathe, a barrister who abruptly retired from practice when a brilliant prosecution resulted in an innocent man's conviction and subsequent suicide. He is now a shade of his former self, haunting the cemetery staring at gravestones meditating on justice. Until, that is, he is forced to consider (not investigate really) four different murders, one for each novella.
Rathe is a handsome, wealthy, cultured, yet empathetic man who listens to his intuition. Each story is different and enjoyable, if a bit reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes written by Martin Gatiss.
* * *
This was not my usual read but I enjoyed it. I liked the character Rathe very much. This felt more like a gentlemanly approach to crime detection. The fact that Rathe was trying almost to redeem himself from his previous behaviour made him even more appealing. Each case was self contained and fairly succinct. I enjoyed the change in pace from more grisly stories.
Sue Ross, UK
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Anthony Rathe is a disillusioned former lawyer having left the bar because an innocent young man called Marsden, whom he prosecuted, committed suicide in gaol. As a result, haunted by guilt and shame, Rathe finds himself investigating crimes of passion where injustice is evident. ‘The Marsden disgrace’, as Rathe views the matter, is a connecting thread through the four stories in this excellent collection as he attempts to atone for his perceived sin.
Anthony Rathe is a fascinating character who works in a solitary fashion down the narrow line between the police and the legal system. He is a wonderfully incongruous mix of the stoical and passionate. Here we have a character who is intriguing and pleasingly different from the run of the mill sleuths who people modern crime fiction. Indeed his heritage is in the tradition of the unusual golden age detective who is neither a tired policeman nor the risibly eccentric private detective. He is a very welcome addition to the raft of modern crime solvers.
In this collection we have a quartet of stories in which Rathe solves a series of murders. I think of these as cabinet detective tales in that the mysteries are tightly plotted and cunning, while involving only a small cast of players, which works well with Booth’s rich and intense storytelling style. He is particularly good with atmosphere and Rathe’s internal monologues. The characters are expertly drawn and psychologically accurate. While at times we are in Agatha Christie whodunit territory with the plots which challenge the reader to spot the culprit before the denouement, the literary quality of the writing adds an elegant and realistic patina to the narratives.
One of the added pleasures of these stories is the growing uneasy relationship Rathe has with the police detective Inspector Terry Cook, a belligerent but very human copper who tolerates rather than accepts Rathe’s interference in his cases. Indeed on occasion he sometimes seeks his help, albeit begrudgingly. The two men rub each other up the wrong way most of the time, but Booth subtly reveals that there is a respect growing between them. It’s an engaging double act.
Anthony Rathe is a new star on the crime fiction stage and this reviewer wants more, please.
David Stuart Davies, UK
* * *
Well, this was a little different. Set in the present but written in a style that suggests a much earlier time setting. So much so that, for me, I slipped into the past and then was jolted back to the present by some mention of technology. This made for an interesting read!
I am not the biggest fan of short stories but I do like anthologies and even though, with the brevity of the tale being told, there is not much wriggle room for the usual twists and turns you find in longer forms of crime fiction, I found that there was just enough for me to get my teeth into with these. Yes, they were occasionally a little bit obvious at times, but I mostly put that down to my voracious devouring of the genre rather than anything the author did.
Slightly annoying angst aside, I did like Rathe as a character and I thought that his relationship with Cook was well done. They don't really like each other initially but have a mutual respect for one another and it was interesting to see their relationship develop throughout the book.
All in all, a nice anthology containing four interesting stories, played out by some well rounded characters, written in an interesting old-feeling style. Hopefully there will be more to come in the series, I'll definitely be up for that!
Kath Brinck, UK
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and marvelled at both its pace and great character in Anthony Rathe with its intriguing twists and turns in four great imaginative tales.
Emyr Williams, UK
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Four stories focus on the quest for truth and justice, no matter how inconvenient. To build up trust and tension Rathe's private investigations are contrasted to Inspector Cook. The stories read like a classic crime story on TV, concise, and conversations to look into the investigator's line of thought to solve the whodunnit puzzle.
Henk-Jan van der Klis, Netherlands
* * *
This gripping collection of detective stories is an excellent blend of contemporary and traditional crime drama. Each story is tightly plotted, exciting, and each with a satisfying twist at the end. There is a variety to the stories, ranging from dark secrets being exposed to genuinely tragic family secrets coming to light.
But the real success of these stories are the two main characters and their relationship. Rathe is a fascinating and original character, a troubled man trying to make sense of his life in the wake of a tragedy which still haunts him. Contrasted with Rathe’s private quest for redemption is Inspector Cook, a man with his own troubles, trying to come to terms with the violence he sees in his everyday life in the best way he can.
The contrast between the two of them is set off against their mutual desire to find the truth and it forms the basis of an uneasy alliance. It is their uncertain partnership which sets these stories aside. It is not the usual detective duo combination and this amiable hostility between them is a welcome change. Rathe and Cook are wary of each other but what these stories show so well is the slow building of trust and respect between them as they investigate the crimes at the centre of these four excellent stories. A sequel can’t come soon enough.
Shirley Rothel, UK
* * *
A good book of shorter stories featuring a lawyer after helping convict an innocent man who later committed suicide. Said lawyer - Rathe - overcome with guilt and despair finds himself continually helping a policeman in intriguing cases that help draw him out of his despair. Well written and definitely worth the read.
Matthew Shank, USA
* * *
Great storyline with good strong characters. Very well written. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Stephanie Collins, UK
* * *
The stories and characters are well-developed.
John Tatum, USA
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