The Shadow of the Rope by E.W. Hornung (1906)

“I’ll have what he’s having,” shouts a boisterous, heavyset man with a jolly face wearing an old fashioned three piece at the Mystery Authors Club. The declaration brings the eyes of the room towards a small table with short bespectacled man hunched alone over a small table alternatively wolfing down food and scribbling furiously on a yellow legal pad. Three empty dishes lie on the other side of the table surrounded by five yellow crumpled pieces of paper. Unfazed or unaware of the attention the author continues his crude dinner writing ritual. End scene. I’m one of those people who always assumes everyone in a niche field knows everyone else. In the case of mystery authors I imagine a sort of old fashioned English club that every great mystery author frequents regularly. The man at the table in this case is E.W. Hornung rushing towards the deadline of his new mystery novel.

Rachel Minchin was born to a poor family in Australia and she worked humble jobs later gaining berth to England as a Lady’s companion. On the voyage, she and Mr. Minchin, a forty year old mining expert, fall in love and quickly get married. The new marriage bliss doesn’t last as Rachel realizes that her husband is a much different in London than on a boat. Mr. Minchin is murdered the night before Rachel planned upon leaving him. The police and the public convict Rachel immediately in the court of public opinion. After a weeklong trial, Rachel is declared not guilty to the disgust of the attentive public. Alone at night without means or wiles to procure bread and bed Rachel is helped by a stranger who’d watched the trial. The next day, the rich stranger J.B. Steele proposes a marriage of convenience where neither must discuss their past. In desperation to shed public scrutiny and the Minchin name Rachel accepts and moves to Steele’s English country house. The stereotype of the English country village with its gossiping locals and scrutiny of outsiders make the pairs secrets ever more fragile. Rachel is a sympathetic bewildered character and J.B. Steele is a gruff man full of mystery. The question of who really murdered her late husband permeates the tale. Not sliding cleanly into popular whodunnit or detective novel cliches E.W. Hornung creates a compelling mystery full of brutal dead ends, shocking revelations and believable cast of characters. Sit in the dark and read The Shadow of the Rope.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12590

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-shadow-of-the-rope-by-e-w-hornung/

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China and the Chinese by Herbert Allen Giles (1902)

When I initially saw the title of this book, I almost passed it by. Every book from a hundred years ago in which a European scholar explains some foreign culture is likely to be offensive. It is easy to see a group of people acting differently from yourself and assume that they are inferior. This is an ignorant habit but a common one especially when this was written. Inside this book, which is really a collection of speeches, the author does an amazing job of bucking that trend. He spends a large portion of the book defending the Chinese people and batting down the irresponsible slander spread about them. I specifically enjoyed the section on the Chinese language.

In this book you will find a collection of six lectures on China given by Herbert Allen Giles at Columbia University, New York in 1902. Herbert Allen Giles touches on the language, government, religion, and literature of the Chinese. The book is compact and dense with factual information. It may be dry for the uninterested but will be enjoyable to the inquiring mind. If you already have an interest in history and Chinese culture, I suggest you check out China and the Chinese.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/china-and-the-chinese-by-herbert-allen-giles/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18021

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (1903)

This book was as refreshing as a trip to the beach after months cramped in a tiny office tapping repetitively on the keyboard. In Helen Keller I find the kindred spirit of an avid reader. She saw the world through raised type on the printed page and found books intoxicating. Through books you can go almost anywhere. Another point of interest is her negative experience with copyright and the fallacy of human memory. I have always believed, as she does, that every thought in my mind could be a regurgitation of someone else’s beliefs or opinions that I absorbed at some earlier date. The inability to fully trust ones own memories can be disconcerting. Someday in the distant future human beings might be capable of relinquishing ownership of ideas and instead focus on applying those ideas. Just a thought.

Helen Keller narrates her life as she grows from a child to a young woman. This fascinating journey bridges the difficulties of living without sight and hearing. Losing these two senses before the age of two she forgets all about how the world looked and sounded. For the next four years she communicates with her family using rudimentary signs and continues her happy childhood. At the age of seven, Helen meets her teacher for the first time. Anne Sullivan goes on to teach Helen how to read, write and communicate with others. This flash of insight ignites the great intellect of Helen Keller. See the world through her eyes by reading The Story of My Life.

 

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2397

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-story-of-my-life-by-helen-keller-2/

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton (1908)

Have you ever casually stepped in a puddle that ended up much deeper than first assumed? This book is a puddle. You may find depth but I only saw glimpses. Instead I thought that this novel had a consistent absurd style of humor that paced the whole story wonderfully. Each chapter left me thinking that this couldn’t go any further. The joke was over yet the author kept pulling at it incessantly like a kitten with a ball of yarn. At times I imagine jumping inside a book to see how realistic the book feels around me. This book hangs realism in the first chapter and spends the next fourteen chapters dragging the body around and taking pictures with it. To some this would be too far. Instead I found it refreshing.

Gabriel Syme is a policeman disguised as a poet. This is an easy disguise; he used to be a poet. His goal is to disrupt the plans of the a secret international anarchist organization. Through ruse, subterfuge and mostly blind luck Syme finds himself inside the local underground bunker taking part in an anarchist meeting. Syme seizes his chance and tricks the local chapter to elect him as their representative. Like a line of dominos, Syme crashes from one adventure to the next in pursuit of a world without anarchy. Ride an elephant through London while reading The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-man-who-was-thursday-a-nightmare-by-gk-chesterton/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1695

The Calico Cat by Charles Miner Thompson(1908)

Sometimes a character gets stuck in the mud. Every time they try to get out of trouble they accidentally jump head first deeper and deeper into trouble. This funny little story perfectly illustrates that very situation.

Solomon is excited about his new post on the local grand jury. Here is a job that could in his opinion propel him into a prominent political office. A moment of anger gets him stuck in the mud and he spends the rest of the story trying to leap out of it to no avail. Here’s some advice. Try not to get provoked by The Calico Cat.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/the-calico-cat-by-charles-miner-thompson/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20010

Mob Rule in New Orleans by Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1900)

This is a disturbing read. With incredible directness and absence of colorful language this little pamphlet describes the horrible events committed by mobs in and around New Orleans. The utter disregard for the lives of black people and the complete disdain for the rule of law is shocking when looked at in a modern context. Common law concepts such as innocence until proven guilty and freedom of speech were continually ignored. At the same time, the atrocities attributed to the mob didn’t result in any arrests whatsoever.

Robert Charles and his friend are sitting out in front of house when they are accosted by three officers. His friend submits to the unwarranted arrest while Robert fights back and flees the scene. What follows is a citywide manhunt that results in the death of Robert Charles and a dozen police officers and citizens. As a result of this bloodshed mobs form around New Orleans killing innocent black people indiscriminately. Ida B. Wells-Barnett crafts a patchwork of local news articles and interviews to paint the terrible scene. Learn from the past by picking up Mob Rule in New Orleans.

 

free audiobook download: https://librivox.org/mob-rule-in-new-orleans-by-ida-b-wells-barnett/

free ebook download: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14976

The Idiot at Home by John Kendrick Bangs(1900)

The home life one lives away from the city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if you take the idiots advice. There are peculiar problems that only crop up when you’re at home. So off the idiot goes to try and solve and ridicule these problems. Sometimes he is clever. Leaving an empty safe for the professional criminal shows great foresight. At other times he is flummoxed by the simplest problems. He is never able to find a way to cook cauliflower without stinking up the house. Either way you will enjoy the silly life of The Idiot at Home.

free ebook download: http://manybooks.net/titles/bangsjoh3968239682.html