The Tales of Max Carrados

The Tales of Max Carrados (Audiobook), by Ernest Bramah

Max Carrados stories began appearing in The Strand alongside Sherlock Holmes. He was, in fact, so popular that Ernest Bramah’s books sometimes outsold those by Doyle.

Carrados has skills comparable to Sherlock Holmes with the added twist that he is almost completely blind. (He was blinded from an eye injury while riding a horse.) He can see a little when things are near. For distant vision he has a manservant with observation skills to, again, rival Holmes.

This particular collection of stories was produced by Audible with voice acting by Stephen Fry of Fry and Laurie.

The stories hold up well and have a completely modern feel, as if a contemporary writer had created an early 20th century detective. The stories, while quirky, are excellent mysteries.

The quirkiness comes from Carrados himself. He’s rich, so he doesn’t need to do detective work. He has various interests but one of his keenest interests is in ancient coins. The first story in the book revolves around a man asking Carrados to  determine whether a coin is a forgery. Carrados is able to do this with touch and taste. Another story involves a woman who comes to Carrados because she’s been accused of stealing a coin at an auction.

The detective frequently never needs to leave his office, able to determine what has happened with keen questioning. Because of his keen hearing he is able to hear whispered conversations that others miss and also makes him something of a human lie detector. As with his other senses he has a keen sense of smell and can often solve crimes with his nose.

Fry’s recording, as with his reading of the complete Sherlock Holmes series, is a great listen. Often narrators will close with “performed by …” when there was little more than a straight reading and not an exceptional one at that. Fry has a keen ear for London accents and each character is distinct.

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