(E-)Book Read! THE MYSTERY OF CLOOMBER by Arthur Conan Doyle
First sentence: “I John Fothergill West, student of Law in the University of St. Andrews, have endeavoured in the ensuing pages to lay my statement before the public in a concise and business-like fashion.”
P. 99: “My sister’s white, anxious face stood out in the obscurity with a startling exactness of profile like one of Rembrandt’s portraits.”
Last sentence: “Let him learn that if he will but cease to believe in the infallibility of his own methods, and will look to the East, from which all great movements come, he will find there a school of philosophers and of savants who, working on different lines from his own, are many thousand years ahead of him in all the essentials of knowledge.”
Plot Summary (Wikipedia):
The Mystery of Cloomber is narrated by John Fothergill West, a Scot who has moved with his family from Edinburgh to Wigtownshire to care for the estate of his father’s half brother, William Farintosh.
Near their residence, Branksome, is The Cloomber Hall, for many years untenanted but now settled in by John Berthier Heatherstone, late of the Indian Army. General Heatherstone is nervous to the point of being paranoid. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that his fears are connected with some people in India whom he has offended somehow. Every year his paranoia reaches its climax around the fifth of October, after which date his fears subside for a while. After some time there is a shipwreck in the bay and among the survivors are three Buddhist priests who had boarded the ship from Kurrachee.
When John Fothergill West tells the general (to whose daughter Gabriel he is engaged) about the priests, he resigns himself to his fate and refuses any help from West.
Although I read all the books of Sherlock Holmes, I hadn’t read any other works by Conan Doyle. The Mystery of Cloomber looked like an inviting and intriguing title, so I decided to start with this one. The novella (138 pages) is filed under Crime/Mystery, but I would classify it as fantasy or even psychological fiction. I liked the story, because, even it was fantasy and somewhat supernatural, it was told in a way that made everything very believable. I can imagine that when one is really convinced that one will have to pay one day for something done in the past, one doesn’t resist when the day of the atonement has come finally after several decades.