"A Double-Barrelled Detective Story" was yet another ebook I found for free on Amazon's kindle shop. Mark Twain wrote it in 1902 (at least that's the publishing date; he may have written it earlier than that), and it even has its own wikipedia entry. At the start of the book, the reader meets a young couple very much in love in the year 1880. Things take a very bad turn, though, when not long after their wedding, the husband commits a terrible crime against his young wife. He flees the scene, and she is left to bring up their son on her own. As the son grows up, he is trained by his mother for a special purpose: revenge. Most of the story deals with how he goes about this task, and several chapters come in the shape of letters he writes to his mother while hot on the heels of his father. The appearing of Sherlock Holmes on the scene marks the story's pinnacle; after that, it does not take long for everything to end in a rather satisfactory manner. If you are looking for Mark Twain's usual humour in this short novel (approx. 180 pages in print), you could be disappointed; yes, the whole thing is a satire on the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and there are some quite funny bits in it, but it is not quite what I expected. That does not take away from it being an entertaining read, and I guess that is one of the few ebooks I keep on my kindle and do not delete after reading.
There are one or two entertaining elements to this story, mainly Twain's depiction of the deductive powers of his spoof Holmes as being seriously flawed. I especially liked his declaration that the mystery assassin was left handed because experience had taught him that assassins were always left handed. A minor character called Ham Sandwich also made me laugh more than the joke deserved. However there isn't much plot and overall it's pretty average.
Who wouldn't be delighted to find the public domain list of FREE classic literature. This is fantastic. All the titles I've always wanted to read and for free - this is my kind of kindle heaven. I love the way they arrive on your kindle, they're so quick, it's like magic. Thank you public domain!
I'm afraid it was a disappointing read. I wonder if Twain just needed a pay cheque and bashed out a quick story. It begins well and then seems to meander and fizzle out at the end. I was expecting the skill of writing that we see in 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn', but it left me completely unmoved.