The Big Bow Mystery

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"The Big Bow Mystery", by Israel Zangwill. Israel Zangwill, british humorist and writer (1864-1926).

The original locked-room detective story.

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The Big Bow Mystery

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"The Big Bow Mystery", by Israel Zangwill. Israel Zangwill, british humorist and writer (1864-1926).

The original locked-room detective story.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A labor leader is found dead in his bedroom, his throat slashed. The door is locked and bolted from within, as are all the windows, and there is no sign of a weapon. Suicide seems impossible, yet so does murder. How, after all, could the murderer have left the room? Written and published in 1891, The Big Bow Mysteryis the earliest locked-room mystery novel, and a delight to read even 100 years later. Set in Victorian London, this puzzle story features Dickensian characters-Mrs. Drabdump the landlady ("whom fog did not depress. She went about her work quite as cheerlessly as usual"), Denzil Cantercot the poet ("Life was very serious to him. He never wrote comic verse intentionally"), and Peter Crowl the cobbler ("Crowl was a thinker, or thought he was-which seems to involve original thinking anyway"). The author's dry wit and satiric view of human nature will appeal to teens who have enjoyed Gulliver's Travelsor Candide, as well as to those looking for a humorous mystery.-Sandy Schmitz, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786105915
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/1982
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 3 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2012

    This newspaper serial from the 1890s is a decidedly mixed blessi

    This newspaper serial from the 1890s is a decidedly mixed blessing. In my eBook anthology, 50 Classic Mystery Books, it is a bit short of a hundred pages, making me wonder if I didn’t get an abridged copy. Be that as it may, there were strengths, most notably lovely language and an intriguing mystery beginning, a murdered man in a room locked and secured from the inside. In the included preface, the author acknowledges that even HE didn’t know whodunit at the beginning, and he solved it as the story neared its climax, deliberately working it out so that the murderer was one whom nobody had suspected in the readers’ responses to the newspapers in which it was serialized. For this reader, that left an unsatisfactory conclusion, one which didn’t follow in any compelling way from the story, a story which, given the ending, in retrospect seemed to do a lot of aimless wandering around. I would read more Zangwill for his use of language, but would be hard-pressed to recommend this mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    Even though this is a murder mystery, Israel Zangwill manages to craft one of the most original satires of Victorian London. From the worried Mrs. Drabdump to the detective whose main preoccupation is sticking it to Scotland Yard to the poet who loves monarchy and never pays his bills, Israel Zangwill paints with a cynical and bemused brush. A year later he would publish CHildren of the Ghetto, a Sholem Aleichem type book that would cement his reputation as a Victorian writer. Not only is this the first locked room mystery, it's also hilarious. Illustrations by Thien Tran. Also contains Israel Zangwill's 1893 short story 'Cheating the Gallows' another mystery that relies on dualism.

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