The Great Portrait Mystery
R. Austin Freeman
The National Portrait Gallery is the opening setting for this delightful mystery of theft and fraud. A painter copies diligently from a watercolour one morning when an enigmatic musician suddenly appears and causes mayhem with his musical interludes, hopping from one picture to another and giving a remarkable rendition of different songs. But while the curator follows him around trying to call a halt to the musical spectacle, the copyist replaces a watercolour masterpiece and makes an infamous escape. Who is the mysterious musician? Who is the mysterious copyist? And what has happened to the priceless watercolour?
Author biography:R. Austin Freeman Deemed ‘the father of the scientific detective story’, Richard Austin Freeman enjoyed a prolific career that saw him gain qualifications as pharmacist and surgeon, pull off a diplomatic coup along the Gold Coast, work for Holloway Prison and then become a formidable writer of fiction.
He was born in London, the son of a tailor who went on to train as a pharmacist. After graduating as a surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital Medical College, Freeman taught for a while and then joined the colonial service, offering his skills as an assistant surgeon along the Gold Coast of Africa. He became embroiled in a diplomatic mission when a British expeditionary party was sent to investigate the activities of the French. Through his tact and formidable intelligence, a massacre was narrowly avoided. His future was therefore assured in the colonial service.
However, after becoming ill with black-water fever, Freeman was sent back to England to recover and finding his finances precarious, embarked on a career as acting physician in Holloway Prison.
In desperation, he also turned to writing where he went on to dominate the world of British detective fiction, taking pride in testing different criminal techniques. So keen was he, part of one of his best novels was written in a bomb shelter. For the first twenty-five years of his writing career, Freeman was to dominate and remain unrivalled in the world of detective fiction, introducing the well-loved and highly memorable 'Dr Thorndyke'. The continued success of this character has affirmed Richard Austin Freeman’s place amongst the finest of crime writers.