The Dead Witness

A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories

By Michael Sims (Editor)
Walker & Company, Paperback, 9780802779182, 576pp.

Publication Date: December 20, 2011

List Price: $20.00*
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Description

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.




About the Author
Michael Sims is the author of four nonfiction books: Darwin's Orchestra, Adam's Navel, Apollo's Fire, and a companion book to the National Geographic Channel series In the Womb: Animals. His three previous literary collections include The Annotated Archy and Mehitabel, The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime, and Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief. His writing has appeared in many periodicals in the U.S. and abroad, including New Statesman, Washington Post, Orion, American Archaeology, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others. He speaks often at colleges and other institutions and has appeared on many TV and radio programs, from CBS's Early Show and Inside Edition to a BBC Radio series about the human body. His Web site is www.michaelsimsbooks.com.
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