Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection

Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection

by Michael Cox
     
 

The Victorian era saw the first great flowering of the detective story. Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.S. LeFanu, and a host of others pioneered a genre of fiction that remains among the most popular today. Now, in Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection, Michael Cox provides a sampling of the finest detective stories

Overview

The Victorian era saw the first great flowering of the detective story. Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.S. LeFanu, and a host of others pioneered a genre of fiction that remains among the most popular today. Now, in Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection, Michael Cox provides a sampling of the finest detective stories written from the 1840s to the early twentieth century.
Here readers will find a vast array of detectives and villains, and a multitude of murder methods and motives. In Edgar Allen Poe's "The Purloined Letter," the identity of the robber is known from the start—it is the surreptitious retrieval of the letter that is the mystery. In M. McDonnell Bodkin's "Murder By Proxy," a gentleman is shot in the head at close range, by a murderer who was not even in the same room. Charles Dickens's "Hunted Down" portrays a murderer who was slowly poisoning his very own nieces for their insurance money. And in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost Special," a train and its passengers vanish in thin air. In addition, Cox (who is rapidly becoming one of the foremost experts on Victorian popular fiction) arranges the stories in chronological order so that readers can follow the genre as it develops over time. For instance, in Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" we see an example of the many Sherlock Holmes escapades that popularized and came to typify the detective story for the Victorian public. And in the progression of the stories, we witness the evolution of the investigator from Poe's brilliant and eccentric Chevalier C. August Dupin, to Doyle's scientific Sherlock Holmes, into Robert Barr's cavalier Valmont (a possible model for Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot).
Including well-known stories by famous authors, as well as little known gems reprinted for the first time, Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection not only offers hours of enjoyment and escape for all lovers of crime fiction, but also brings alive the society, language, the sights, and sounds of the Victorian age.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The editor of Victorian Ghost Stories returns with an inviting collection of 31 stories by 30 writers (two stories are by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) that provides an enthralling overview of the mystery/detective tale from 1845 to 1904. In an incisive introduction, Cox engagingly sketches the historical background. The volume proper opens, appropriately enough, with Edgar Allan Poe's seminal ``The Purloined Letter,'' and proceeds chronologically. In E. and H. Heron's ``The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith,'' the typical dark and stormy night precedes mysterious tapping in an ``intensely English house'' where paranormal detective Flaxman Low uncovers gruesome details. In Conan Doyle's ``The Lost Special,'' in contrast, a bright June day does not deter cunning Herbert de Lernac from committing the ``inexplicable crime of the century.'' In ``The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,'' Sherlock Holmes links a lost hat, a Christmas goose and a hotel jewel robbery during the ``season of forgiveness.'' Gambling habits prove ruinous in J. S. Le Fanu's exemplary double-locked-room mystery ``The Murdered Cousin''; Wilkie Collins's ``Who Killed Zebedee?'' tells of love and obsession in a rooming house. Other stories address blackmail, embezzlement and kleptomania, showcasing the splendid diversity of the Victorian mystery. (Oct.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192123084
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/29/1992
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.81(h) x 1.63(d)

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Meet the Author

About the Editor:
Michael Cox is coeditor of The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories and Victorian Ghost Stories with R.A. Gilbert.

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