The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories

The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories

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by Michael Sims
     
 

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Gathering the finest adventures among private and police detectives from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-including a wide range of overlooked gems-Michael Sims showcases the writers who ever since have inspired the field of detective fiction.

From luminaries Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bret Harte, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle to the

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Overview

Gathering the finest adventures among private and police detectives from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-including a wide range of overlooked gems-Michael Sims showcases the writers who ever since have inspired the field of detective fiction.

From luminaries Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bret Harte, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle to the forgotten author who helped inspire Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" to a surprising range of talented female authors and detectives, The Dead Witness offers mystery surprises from every direction. The 1866 title story, by Australian writer Mary Fortune, is the first known detective story by a woman, a suspenseful clue-strewn manhunt in the Outback. Pioneer writers Anna Katharine Green and C. L. Pirkis take you from high society New York to bustling London, introducing colorful detectives such as Violet Strange and Loveday Brooke.

In another forgotten classic, November Joe, the Canadian half-Native backwoods detective who stars in Hesketh Prichard's "The Crime at Big Tree Portage," demonstrates that Sherlockian attention to detail works as well in the woods as in the city. Holmes himself is here, too, of course-not in another reprint of an already well-known story, but in the first two chapters of A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes case, in which the great man meets and dazzles Watson.

Introduced by Michael Sims's insightful overview of detective fiction, The Dead Witness unfolds the irresistible antecedents of what would mature into the most popular genre of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sims (Dracula’s Guest) has pulled together an exceptionally intelligent and varied anthology of Victorian crime fiction, starting with a detective story that predated Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by four years, William E. Burton’s “The Secret Cell,” reprinted for the first time since its original publication in 1837. The usual suspects—Poe, Dickens, Collins, Doyle, and Chesterton—are all on hand, but the chronological placement of their contributions, each with an insightful introduction, helps delineate what each author got from his or her predecessors. D’Artagnan’s impressive deductive reconstruction of a gunfight 30 years before A Study in Scarlet amply justifies the surprising inclusion of a section from a Dumas père musketeer romance. Among the lost treasures is the title story, “the first known detective story written by a woman,” Mary Fortune, an Australian immigrant who wrote a story a month for 40 years under the pseudonym Waif Wander. Serious readers of detective fiction will cherish this volume. (Jan.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802779182
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
12/20/2011
Pages:
608
Sales rank:
658,149
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Michael Sims is the author of acclaimed nonfiction books such as The Story of Charlotte's Web, Apollo's Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination, and Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form. His anthologies include The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime and Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories. He lives in western Pennsylvania.

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The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Adele_Ruiz More than 1 year ago
This collection of mysteries is a rare treat. While some of the authors are known to mystery lovers (Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe), others are not, including a strong showing by women authors. The detectives showcased here are clever, intriguing, and have engaging personalities. While the stories are a fun read, the best part is the introduction of each story by Michael Sims. He gives each story context and points out the influence of the author on future writers. This is a fun read and I'll be rereading it again soon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago