Scientific detection shows up in the history of the detective novel as early as the late 19th century with the investigations of the physician sleuth who appears in Stories from the Diary of a Doctor by L.T. Meade and Clifford Halifax. Vicious murders are committed with x-rays, micro-organisms, and other unusual methods of a scientific nature. It is further developed in the work of R. Austin Freeman with his Dr.Thorndyke novels, the varied and often fantastical adventures of Professor Craig Kennedy in the work of Arthur B. Reeve, Scientific Sprague created by Francis Lynde, continues into the 1930s with various pseudonymous books by Nigel Morland and well into the 1950s with the Lawrence Blochman's Dr. Coffee, a forerunner of the contemporary forensic pathology detectives. By the 1950s scientific detective stories were being experimented with by writers mostly known for their science fiction stories. It was probably only natural that John Russell Fearn, who began his career as a science fiction writer, should also turn to scientific detection when he began writing crime fiction.
Professor Hiram Carruthers looks "like a bust of Beethoven," is as obnoxious as Roger Shearingham, and - of course - the only person who can explain the seemingly miraculous and bamboozling crimes that face Chief Inspector Monty Garth in his exhausting job. In Vision Sinister (1954) Garth is forced once again to consult with the irascible Carruthers, suffer drinking the"pallid muck" he calls tea, and endure insults as he asks for Carruthers' advice on yet another unsolvable impossible crime. Carruthers is an egotist of immense proportions and says things like "We have here a most ingenious killer, even one with a scientific turn of mind, but not one with the ability to defeat me." In this particular investigation Garth and Carruthers need to unravel the mystery of a photographic laboratory that vanished in an instant and a murder victim who was transported over mile in less than a few minutes.
Cynthia Harwood and her friend Janice make their way to a basement laboratory of Thomas , Cynthia's fiancee. On the front door the find a sign instructing them to ring the bell and then look through a glass slide. What they see is a man in a lab coat stabbing a woman dressed in a purple evening gown. They call for help and ask the caretaker of the building to unlock the door. When the door is opened the room is completely empty. No lab equipment, no table, no dead body. Nothing, but white room lit by a single overhead light and an empty electric socket in the wall. Only minutes had passed and yet the entire room and its occupants seemed to have vanished. Later that evening a woman dressed in a purple evening gown is found dead in a rubbish heap one mile away from the photo lab. She has been stabbed to death. How did she get from one place to the other?