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The Strange Case of Mortimer Fenley...
Mortimer Fenley, London financier and banker, lay dead at the very doorstep of his country home, shot from ambush while lighting his morning cigar.
The local constable, by mere coincidence, arrived quickly at the scene and organized a search of the surrounding area, concluding that the shot could only have come from one vantage point, a high rocky crag opposite the house. The only clue turned up by the search, a clear set of footprints found in a shady wet area near the rocks, is carefully preserved when the constable closes the area and puts it under police guard.
It falls to the famed Scotland Yard duo of Winter and Furneaux to unravel a mystery that begins with the realization that had the shot actually come from the only possible spot the marksman would have been clearly visible from the house, that the Fenley mansion hides ugly secrets in stark contrast to its idyllic setting, and that the only person who could have committed the murder could not have fired the shot.
Louis Tracy (1863-1928) was a prolific British writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Despite his large body of work, comparatively little is known about Tracy's life. The author of numerous mysteries, Tracy's works are characterized by a straightforward narrative style, well-developed background stories, interesting characters and complex plots.
Offered a job as a reporter in response to a letter he submitted to a local paper Tracy became a newspaperman, eventually serving as editor of the English-language Morning Post in Allahabad, India.
Between 1885 and 1895 Tracy wrote and edited a series of nonfiction books and short stories, based for the most part on his experiences in India. In 1895 he outlined his first novel, about a European conflict in which America would come to the aid of Britain in a great war which would be the end of all war, was published as a serial in "Pearson's Weekly" and later in book form. "The Final War" was quite successful and is a pioneering example of the "Future War" or "Future History" sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy literature. Tracy actually wrote this novel in separate episodes as they became due, rather than submitting portions of a finished work.
By 1900 Tracy was producing straightforward mystery novels on a regular basis, and with the exception of 1917-1919, when he was rousing support for the war effort in America, he continued to publish an average two or three novels per year through the 1920's, and a collection of his works was reissued after his death. A few of his novels are still fairly well-known, and many of his mysteries, especially those featuring Reginald Brett and Winter & Furneaux, are still read and enjoyed by mystery fans today.