John Charles Dent, the author of the following remarkable stories, was born in Kendal, Westmorland, England, in 1841. His parents emigrated to Canada shortly after that event, bringing with them, of course, the youth who was afterwards to become the Canadian author and historian. Mr. Dent received his primary education in Canadian schools, and afterwards studied law, becoming in due course a member of the Upper Canada Bar. He only practised for a few years, then returned to England to pursue a literary career, writing mostly for periodicals. After remaining in England for several years, Mr. Dent and his family moved to Boston, in America, for about two years. But he finally returned to Canada, accepting a journalistic position in Toronto. Mr. Dent proceeded to write 'The Canadian Portrait Gallery', which ran to four large volumes, 'The Last Forty Years: Canada since the Union of 1841', and a 'History of the Rebellion in Upper Canada'.This collected work of his short fiction, contributed by their author at considerable intervals to different periodicals, was published posthumously. The stories themselves are delightfully anchored in the physical geography of Upper Canada (or in the case of 'Gagtooth's Image', Illinois), and have a mystical and spooky air about them. (Summary by Pipesdreams)
Antony Gillingham arrives at the Red House moments after a gunshot is heard. The room is locked, the murderer has disappeared and, in Antony's opinion, the police are going about it the wrong way. Antony, who was looking for a new profession anyway, decides to solve the murder himself, with a little help from his friend Bill. (Summary by Kristin Hughes)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective. They were originally published in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892. The title character was named after famous American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (Summary from Wikipedia)
Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was an influential and prolific English writer of the early 20th century. He was a journalist, a poet and a novelist. He wrote 80 books and 200 short stories in addition to his other work. He is perhaps best remembered for his ‘Father Brown’ stories; two collections of which are available at Librivox.org.
‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ has some similarities to the Father Brown stories: Horne Fisher the eponymous hero is connected and indeed related to many of the high-ranking politicians of his age and thus ‘knows too much’ about the background of the mysteries in which he becomes embroiled and which he unravels. (Summary by Martin Clifton)
The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) is the first of five collections of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Roman Catholic priest. Father Brown's ability to uncover the truth behind the mystery continually surpasses that of the "experts" around him, who are fooled into underestimation by the priest's unimpressive outward appearance and, often, by their own prejudices about Christianity. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. (Summary by Brian Roberg)
This is the second of five books of short stories about G. K. Chesterton’s fictional detective, first published in 1914. Father Brown is a short, nondescript Catholic Priest with shapeless clothes and a large umbrella who has an uncanny insight into human evil. His methods, unlike those of his near contemporary Sherlock Holmes, although based on observation of details often unnoticed by others, tended to be intuitive rather than deductive. Although clearly devout, he always emphasizes rationality: despite his religiousness and his belief in God and miracles, he manages to see the perfectly ordinary, natural explanation of the problem. He is a devout, educated and "civilized" clergyman, who is totally familiar with contemporary and secular thought and behavior. His character was thought to be based on Father John O'Connor (1870 - 1952), a parish priest in Bradford, Yorkshire. (Summary by Martin)
The dead body of a man is found on the steps to some chambers of Middle Temple Lane, near London's law courts. A journalist and a young lawyer start investigating. - This classic English murder mystery was written in 1920 by J.S. Fletcher, himself a lawyer turned journalist and author. (Summary by Gesine)
Anna Katharine Green was one of the first female mystery writers to publish under her own name. She was never very successful as an author, but the technical excellence of her books caused several law schools to use The Leavenworth Case as a textbook in some of their classes, as an example of how misleading circumstantial evidence can be.
The story concerns a young woman called Rachel Verinder who inherits a large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, on her eighteenth birthday.
The book is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels. T. S. Eliot called it 'the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels'. It contains a number of ideas which became common tropes of the genre: a large number of suspects, red herrings, a crime being investigated by talented amateurs who happen to be present when it is committed, and two police officers who exemplify respectively the 'local bungler' and the skilled, professional, Scotland Yard detective. (Summary from Wikipedia)
Containing many realistic details based on Childers' own sailing trips along the German North Sea coast, the book is the retelling of a yachting expedition in the early 20th century combined with an adventurous spy story.
It was one of the early invasion novels which predicted war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The plot involves the uncovering of secret German preparations for an invasion of the United Kingdom. It is often called the first modern spy novel, although others are as well, it was certainly very influential in the genre and for its time.
The book enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I and was extremely influential. Winston Churchill later credited it as a major reason that the Admiralty decided to establish naval bases at Invergordon, the Firth of Forth and Scapa Flow. (Summary from Wikipedia)
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. He was devised by Scottish author and doctor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based detective, Holmes is famous for his prowess at using logic and astute observation to solve cases. He is perhaps the most famous fictional detective, and indeed one of the best known and most universally recognizable literary characters. Join Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, in Holmes' fourth book. (summary from Wikipedia and TBOL3)
A quiet cathedral town in England, full of gossips and people who are not quite who they seem to be, is the setting for this murder mystery. (Summary by Gesine)
The novel begins with a telephone call to Wimsey from his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, saying that her vicar’s architect has just found a dead body in his bath, wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez. Whose body is it? Whodunnit? It’s up to Lord Peter to find out. (Summary by Kara and Wikipedia)
Well-known mystery writer John Lexman is charged with murder and sent to Broadmoor Prison. His friend T.X., head of a special branch of Scotland Yard, tries to prove his innocence. (Summary by Gesine)
Greenmantle is the second of five Richard Hannay novels by John Buchan, first published in 1916 by Hodder & Stoughton, London. It is one of two Hannay novels set during the First World War, the other being Mr Standfast (1919); Hannay's first and best-known adventure, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), is set in the period immediately before the war started. - Hannay is called in to investigate rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world, and undertakes a perilous journey through enemy territory to meet up with his friend Sandy in Constantinople. Once there, he and his friends must thwart the Germans' plans to use religion to help them win the war, climaxing at the battle of Erzurum. (Summary from Wikipedia)
Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was a prolific American writer of popular mysteries. The Circular Staircase was originally published in 1908 and includes all the elements of the classic whodunit – mysterious events, ghostly apparitions, things that go bump in the night and murder. (Summary by J. M. Smallheer)
What really killed Sir Charles Baskerville? Is his nephew, Sir Henry, in danger from the legendary family curse, a gigantic black hound? Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are on the case in this classic mystery, set on lonely Dartmoor in Devonshire. Neolithic ruins, a perilous quagmire, eerie sounds in the night, and (of course) fog all add to the fun, with an escaped convict thrown in for good measure. (Summary by Laurie Anne Walden)
Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his detective stories, he also wrote other short stories which are masterpieces of mystery and suspense. In some of the stories in "Tales of Terror and Mystery", a suppressed uneasiness gradually builds up and evolves into sheer terror. In others, the story line unexpectedly changes and comes to a horrific conclusion.Sit back in the comfort of your armchair and let yourself be transported to the strange but compelling world created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
When a young lady approaches Sherlock Holmes looking for help in finding out what happened to her father when he disappeared 10 years earlier, both Holmes and Watson are sent on a mission involving stolen treasure, service in colonial India and a secret pact among four ex-convicts. (Summary by Robin Cotter)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. The novel was left unfinished at the time of Dickens' death, and readers have often speculated what the ending might have been. The novel is named after Edwin Drood, but it mostly tells the story of his uncle, a Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque choirmaster named John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud. Miss Bud is Drood's fiancée, and has caught the eye of the high-spirited and hot-tempered Neville Landless, who comes from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) with his twin sister, Helena, and immediately makes an enemy of Drood. It is hinted strongly that Jasper is the murderer, but it is not known whether Dickens had a surprise in mind. (Summary from Wikipedia)
This classic mystery produces its first dead body during a clandestine midnight meeting. Already nothing is what it seems... (Summary by Gesine)
In one of his later novels, the master storyteller spins a tale of two children switched at infancy. A slave takes on the identity of master and heir while the rightful heir is condemned to live the life of a slave. Twain uses this vehicle to explore themes of nature vs. nurture, racial bigotry and moral relativism. The case of mistaken identity is a theme that Twain explored also in THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER; in THE TRAGEDY OF PUDD'NHEAD WILSON he turns the theme into a well-crafted detective story. It is unfortunate that this is one of Twain's lesser known works as it is one of his most enjoyable reads.
Created by Baroness Orczy, author of the famous Scarlet Pimpernel series, The Old Man in the Corner was one of the earliest armchair detectives, popping up with so many others in the wake of the huge popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The Old Man relies mostly upon sensationalistic "penny dreadful" newspaper accounts, with the occasional courtroom visit for extra laughs. He narrates all this information (while tying complicated knots in a piece of string) to a Lady Journalist who frequents the same tea-shop. (Summary from Wikipedia)
When this was written, literary traditions still decreed beauty to be the outward sign of inner saintliness, whereas evil characters tended to be “ugly as sin.” Jean Briggerland defies these expectations by being every bit as angelically beautiful as she is sociopathic. So lovely that all around her are blinded to her guilt no matter how blatant her crimes, only Jack Glover, best friend and lawyer of her most recent victim, is aware of her true nature. Can he stop her crime spree and bring her to justice before she murders her way to wealth and happiness? He really, really shouldn’t count on it. Despite the book’s outrageously implausible plot, it nevertheless manages to keep one in suspense from first page to last. Advisory: Antiquated attitudes and occasional profanity will add unintentional humor to the charms of the story for some listeners but might offend others. (Summary by Lee Elliot)
Having left Sherlock Holmes apparently deceased at the conclusion of The Final Problem (in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes), we now find that he is alive after all! In this collection, first published in 1905, the great detective causes Watson to faint (The Empty House), demonstrates that cryptography is elementary (The Dancing Men), and gets engaged (Charles Augustus Milverton). Join in the fun as Holmes deduces his way through these thirteen adventures. (summary by Laurie Anne Walden)
It's a cold and foggy night in London. A man is horribly murdered in his bedroom, the door locked and bolted on the inside. Scotland Yard is stumped. Yet the seemingly unsolvable case has, as Inspector Grodman says, "one sublimely simple solution" that is revealed in a final chapter full of revelations and a shocking denouement. Detective fiction afficionados will be happy to learn that all the evidence to solve the case is provided. One of the earliest “locked room” mystery stories, The Big Bow Mystery is also a satire of late Victorian society. (Summary by Adrian Praetzellis)
The flood brings in not only the muddy waters but a series of suspicious clues that convinced Mrs. Pitman, a boarding house keeper, that a murder has been committed at her boarding house. Jennifer Ladley aka Jennie Brice is missing and with the help of Mr. Holcombe, a quirky gentleman with a passion for mysteries, they embark on a quest for the truth behind the disappearance of Jennie Brice. (summary by Wina Hathaway)
In this collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, the great detective continues doing what he does best: averting political scandals, tracking down murderers, dragging Dr. Watson into unpleasant situations. As always, it's adventurous fun for the rest of us. This book was published in 1917, after The Return of Sherlock Holmes. (Summary by Laurie Anne Walden)
A collection of six wonderfully quirky detective stories, featuring the 'mystic' former judge Basil Grant. Each story reveals a practitioner of an entirely new profession, and member of the Club of Queer Trades. (Summary by David Barnes)
Inhabitants of the small town of Hamilton joke that they are afraid of being the dummy when playing Bridge, for fear of being murdered. Meanwhile, Special Investigator Bonnie Dundee demands a re-enactment of the 'death hand' to try and find out why, and how, the victim was killed during a high society Bridge party. (Summary by Gesine)
Jewelry thefts, society parties, clairvoyance, and romance marks this mystery, which is set in England and the US in the early 20th century. (Summary by Gesine)
A habitual late night stroll down Markendale Square plunges Viner into the middle of things most mysterious and most perplexing. A murder, an imposter, secret papers, all combine to mystify even the police themselves. Is Hyde as innocent of the crime as he claims? What is the clue of the veiled woman and the diamond ring? Things are not what they seem to be and how can Viner prove the man's innocence? (Summary by Kehinde)
Librivox’s Short Mystery Story Collection 001: a collection of 10 short works of mysterious fiction in the public domain read by a group of LibriVox members.
Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (April 1, 1875–February 10, 1932) was a prolific British crime writer, journalist and playwright, who wrote 175 novels, 24 plays, and countless articles in newspapers and journals. Over 160 films have been made of his novels, more than any other author.
In the 1920s, one of Wallace's publishers claimed that a quarter of all books read in England were written by him.
He is most famous today as the co-creator of "King Kong", writing the early screenplay and story for the movie, as well as a short story "King Kong" (1933) credited to him and Draycott Dell. He was known for the J. G. Reeder detective stories, The Four Just Men, the Ringer, and for creating the Green Archer character during his lifetime. (Summary from Wikipedia)
The account of some adventures in the professional experience of a member of the Imperial Austrian Police. (from the text)
A mystery and adventure story for girls set in Alaska.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841. Poe referred to it as a "tale of ratiocination" featuring the brilliant deductions of C. Auguste Dupin; it is today regarded as one of the first detective stories and is almost certainly the first locked room mystery. (Summary from Wikipedia)
This is volume 1 of 3. Originally published as a penny dreadful from 1845 until 1847, when it first appeared in book form, Varney the Vampyre is a forerunner to vampire stories such as Dracula, which it heavily influenced.Flora Bannersworth is attacked in her own room in the middle of the night, and although her attacker is seemingly shot dead, the body is nowhere to be found. The discovery of two small bite marks on Flora's neck leads Mr Marchdale, an old friend of the family, to the conclusion that she was bitten by a vampire. While Flora recovers, her brother Henry and Mr Marchdale begin their hunt for the vampire. Their suspicions soon fall on the mysterious Sir Francis Varney, who has just bought an old abbey near Bannersworth Hall, and who bears an uncanny resemblance to Marmaduke Bannersworth, a long-dead ancestor of the family. (Summary by Annika Feilbach)
Note that the original text does not have chapters labeled 41-43. The chapters have been renumbered to be consecutive in this project.
"THAT a secret society, based upon the lines of similar institutions so notorious on the Continent during the last century, could ever have existed in the London of our day may seem impossible. Such a society, however, not only did exist, but through the instrumentality of a woman of unparalleled capacity and genius, obtained a firm footing. A century ago the Brotherhood of the Seven Kings was a name hardly whispered without horror and fear in Italy, and now, by the fascinations and influence of one woman, it began to accomplish fresh deeds of unparalleled daring and subtlety in London. By the wide extent of its scientific resources, and the impregnable secrecy of its organisations, it threatened to become a formidable menace to society, as well as a source of serious anxiety to the authorities of the law." (excerpt from The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings)
Trent's Last Case (US title The Woman in Black) is actually the first novel in which gentleman sleuth Philip Trent appears. The novel is a whodunit whose unique place in the history of detective fiction is because it is at the same time the first major send-up of that very genre: Not only does Trent fall in love with one of the primary suspects — usually considered a no-no — he also, after painstakingly collecting all the evidence, draws all the wrong conclusions. Convinced that he has tracked down the murderer of a business tycoon who was shot in his mansion, he is told by the real perpetrator over dinner what mistakes in the logical deduction of the solution of the crime he has made. On hearing what really happened, Trent vows that he will never again attempt to dabble in crime detection. (Summary from Wikipedia)
Two stories "of the seen and unseen" with mysterious occurrences by Margaret O. Oliphant, originally published in 1881. (Summary by Gesine)
LibriVox’s Short Mystery Story Collection 002: a collection of 10 short works of mysterious fiction in the public domain read by a group of LibriVox members.
As wealthy financier, Hugh Mainwaring dictates his last will and testament to his private secretary, it would be impossible for him to imagine the shocking chain of events that he is about to set into motion. This best-selling mystery novel was first published in 1901 and remains an entertaining mix of detective work, courtroom drama and family intrigue. (Summary by J. M. Smallheer)
"I was, perhaps, the plainest girl in the room that night. I was also the happiest—up to one o'clock. Then my whole world crumbled, or, at least, suffered an eclipse. Why and how, I am about to relate." Thus begins this mystery told by Anna Katharine Green, one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and renowned for writing well plotted, legally accurate stories.(Summary by Annise)
The Lost Stradivarius (1895), by J. Meade Falkner, is a short novel of ghosts and the evil that can be invested in an object, in this case an extremely fine Stradivarius violin. After finding the violin of the title in a hidden compartment in his college rooms, the protagonist, a wealthy young heir, becomes increasingly secretive as well as obsessed by a particular piece of music, which seems to have the power to call up the ghost of its previous owner. Roaming from England to Italy, the story involves family love, lordly depravity, and the tragedy of obsession (Summary by Wikipedia)
The Film Mystery is one of eighteen detective novels by Arthur B. Reeve starring his best known character Professor Craig Kennedy and his trusty sidekick Walter Jameson, a newspaper reporter. The pair bears an unmistakable resemblance to the more famous British master sleuth and his doctor friend. The setting of this mystery is the early days of movie making, and the murder victim is Stella Lamar, “the beautiful idol of the screen, beloved of millions”, who collapses and dies during the filming of a scene for her latest movie. (Summary by Maire Rhode)
Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884), a Scotsman by birth and a barrel-maker by trade, settled in Chicago in its infancy and founded the Pinkertons, the world's first detective agency. Though events associated with the agency after his death have tarnished the name, Pinkerton himself was one of the original human rights advocates. He was a dear friend to John Brown, an advisor to Abraham Lincoln, and 80 years ahead of his time in hiring female detectives. He was also stubborn, irascible, and an egomaniac.The Expressman and the Detective (1874) is Pinkerton's first attempt at putting his real-life experiences into novel form. Though many later works attributed to Pinkerton are understood to have been ghostwritten, this is the work of the man the London Times calls "a man at once deeply admirable and quite obnoxious." (Summary by Pete Williams)
The tale of Sweeney Todd has had many incarnations, most famously the stage and movie musical by Stephen Sondheim. But it all started in 1846 with a serialized telling of the story titled “The String of Pearls” in the weekly magazine “The People's Periodical and Family Library”. Called by some a romance, by others a horror story, it is one of the earliest murder mysteries. In “The String of Pearls”, Sweeney Todd is less sympathetic than in some of his later incarnations – a perfect villain, totally self-seeking with no redeeming qualities. How the deeds of Todd are uncovered and how he is brought to justice make a most intriguing tale, but one probably not suited for the very young and certainly not for the squeamish. (Summary by John Lieder).
Mr Robert Grell, millionaire and socialite, is found murdered in his study on a stormy evening. It's up to Heldon Foyle, the detective, to unravel the mystery. (Summary by Christine Blachford - to be expanded)
Richard Hannay’s boredom is soon relieved when the resourceful engineer is caught up in a web of secret codes, spies, and murder on the eve of WWI. This exciting action-adventure story was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1939 classic film of the same name. John Buchan (1875-1940) was Governor General of Canada and a popular novelist. Although condemned by some for anti-Semitic dialog in The Thirty-Nine Steps, his character’s sentiments do not represent the view of the author who was identified in Hitler’s Sonderfahndungsliste (special search list) as a "Jewish sympathiser." (Summary by Adrian Praetzellis)