The monkey is a grotesquely ugly little stoneware statue. Some art critics think it's a magnificent specimen of something or other - it's difficult to say exactly what. But that statue will eventually turn out to play a significant role in helping Dr. John Thorndyke solve a difficult and rather gruesome murder. It happens in "The Stoneware Monkey," by R. Austin Freeman, a Golden Age classic. It's our subject of this week's Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the review here.
Some 80 years ago, Freeman and Dr. Thorndyke were enormously popular among mystery readers. As opposed to the intuitive detective style of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Thorndyke was strictly scientific, working in what were then relatively new areas of forensic investigation.
"The Stoneware Monkey" was one of Freeman's last novels, and it's generally considered one of his best efforts. In addition to a good, fairly-clued mystery, we're also treated to some very funny writing about artistic monstrosities. The whole package is highly enjoyable.