The plots of the individual stories are commonplace, and the Orientalist stereotypes will seem absurd to most contemporary readers and offensive to more than a few, but Rohmer's extraordinary readability, fully equal to his model Conan Doyle, plus his knowledgeable enthusiam for "exotic" cultures compensate for these deficiencies.
What makes "The Dream Detective" memorable, however, are the distinctive characteristics of detective Moris Klaw, the alluring presence of his daughter Isis, and their unusual theories of detection.
Moris Klaw is a gifted eccentric in the Holmesian mode.The proprietor of a ramshackle antique shop in Wapping, Klaw is a tall, stoop-shouldered man, of indeterminate age and unidentifiable foreign acccent, with skin the color of "dirty vellum" (or, to put it another way, "a half-shade lighter than a Chinaman's").He wears gold pince-nez, a flat bowler hat, and an old black cape, and is not only an expert in the legends and lore of valuable historical objects, but also a master of disguise.(Our narrator intimates that his everyday appearance may be nothing more than another of his disguises, an habitual mask.)
His daughter Isis—if indeed she is his daughter—is a "strikingly beautiful brunette" of "lithe carriage," garbed in the haute couture she acquires during her frequent trips to Paris.She assists Moris by helping him develop his "negatives," that is, by bearing and placing at the scene of the crime his "odically sterilized" red cushion.
And just what is an "odically sterilized" cushion?It is the pillow upon which the "dream detective" dreams . . . which brings us to Klaw's theories.Moris Klaw operates on the principle that every crime-scene is pervaded by an "odic force" (similar to "qi" or "prana"), and that an "odically sterilized" pillow can act as a filter which will allow the psychically sensitive to dream the events of the crime.Klaw also believes in the principle of "the cycle of crime," which predicts that an incident of theft or violence associated with an historical object will most likely occur on the same day of the same month when a previous crime associated with the object occurred.
These unique personalities and interesting theories help the reader suspend his disbelief and thoroughly enjoy the unremarkable stories.I doubt he will remember their plots, but he will not forget Moris Klaw or his lovely daughter Isis.
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