On this occasion the synopsis is useless..it is just the first few lines of the book. However don't worry as the whole book is very easy to follow. Although a late work ,1936, the whole feeling of the book is pre First World War. Jervis and Thorndyke bemoan the new buildings in London and the Blitz hasn't yet destroyed many of the old alleyways and by ways.
The accuracy of the geology and geographical locations is worth the price of the book alone. As often with this author ,the prose is dry ;arid for some readers; but not devoid of humour or humanity. My main gripe is the waste of a whole chapter on a coroners inquest . That said ,the ending is really good and keen readers will be delighted by the large amount of scope given to the indefatigable Polton.
I have now read all the Dr Thorndyke novels and just wish there were more. This one fulfills all the criteria for a good mystery and Dr Thorndyke makes it all so clear when everyone else is in a muddle. The character is so well drawn and sympathetic that I don't find his erudition irritating or daunting. I always learn something about a field of knowledge that I previously knew nothing about. I have given four stars because the solution relies greatly on coincidence which is feasible in life but a bit of a cheat in a detective story.
A description of an irritatingly eccentric man, followed by the steps to find out what had happened to him. Interesting geographical and archaeological background, and the usual slightly surprising denouement.
This is a great example of a typical Thorndyke novel. With the eccentric and facetious Penrose speaking in riddles and behaving in the most suspiciously secretive manner, his weird and wonderful collection, his rather lugubrious butler Kickweed, to say nothing of the inimitable Thorndyke and Jervis, we have some fascinating characters to enjoy. The plot is, as usual, intriguing in the scientific complexity of its deductions. Provided you admire the genre, turn of the century, restrained British gentlemanly detective plus sidekick, I think this is a very fine example. If you are a Sara Paretsky addict, leave well alone. If you prefer Sherlock Holmes, this could well be the right choice for you.