18 May 2011

a Case for the Misses Leavenworth


detective novels, mysteries- I love them. I've read some or all of titles of Poe, Wilkie Collins , Arthur Conan Doyle Gaston Leroux and of course Agatha Christie & Dorothy Sayers.  To think I had until just this moment missed "the Mother of the Detective Story," Anna Katharine Green- pains me. I have remedied that and if you have had the same fate I suggest The Leavenworth Case.

It seems Anna Katharine introduced her ongoing series of  stories with Detective Ebenezer Gryce solving murders a full nine years be for Conan Doyle did his Sherlock novels.  Fortunately Detective Gryce has help from a gentleman-Raymond- who can traverse the intrigues of New York society where Gryce can not. Gouty Gryce is likeable, but Raymond is more intriguing and it is from his point of view the murder of a distinguished Mr. Leavenworth and the subsequent evidence that is piling up at the door of one of his two nieces. Both Mary & Eleanore are great beauties & the deeper Mr, Raymond delves into the crime the more he becomes emotionally entangled with both the women.

I can't fault  Green's style-a bit stilted- but some how suggestive of Edith Wharton, I was caught up in the plot rather quickly . Perhaps it is the era Green sets her Case in but I couldn't help think of Wharton & the heroines in her novels-trapped by society's dictates with little to recourse but a successful marriage. Green, a Brooklyn native and the daughter of a criminal attorney, published The Leavenworth Case in 1878.  Green married Charles Rohlfs,  an internationally known furniture designer in 1884.  She went on to publish mysteries with female sleuths-a  society spinster Amelia Butterworth, said to be the prototype for Miss Marple & Violet Strange, debutante leading a secret life as a sleuth.
I have to read these of course- I've got a case.

the romantic langour of Albert Joseph Moore's paintings seem to capture the mood of Mr. Raymond as he falls deeper and deeper under the spell of the two cousins.



  1. Once again you inspire and you teach. Thank you from an uninspired dummy.

  2. I will try and find this book as I love detective stories. Do you know of Hilda Lawrence? Wrote in the 40s and only five books, I think. I have all she wrote and reread them quite often. The only detective stories I find unreadable, so far, have been the Nero Woolfe books. Totally tedious.

  3. I'm heading over to Amazon right now. I love a great mystery--and set in the Victorian Era--nothing better. Mary

  4. I adore Christie and Sayers to a lesser extent, so will have to hunt this one down

  5. So interesting, I too love a good dark mystery. The lettering on this book alone would make me buy it!

  6. I have never heard of this author but now after reading your post I will make an effor to read Green's books.
    Have you read Lady Audley's Secret by another female auther of the 19th Century, Mary Elizabeth Braddon published in 1862? It is another excellent example of the genre with one character taking on the role as reluctant detective and figuring out the mystery.

  7. I love mysteries and this sounds wonderful Gaye! I will look for The Leavenworth case in my local bookstore. The paintings are luscious.

    Art by Karena

    Come and enter my New Giveaway from Serena & Lily! You will love it!

  8. a gathering of mystery lovers!

    Kevin-no no-nothing here terribly enlightening, just a lots of reading of late!

    Blue- do find it, I finally gave in to an amazon purchase & I will be checking into Hilda Lawrence! thank you for the recommendation ,

    Go to it Jones!

    David-I agree about Christie! though I am a sucker for any mystery-at least most of them.

    A&A I was glad to find that old copy on the net- I opted for the Penguin pb edition

    Belle- another wonderful recommendation- I like the sound of this one, thanks much..

    Karena, I loved using these paintings to illustrate a little of the mood of the book!

    thanks for all your comments-as always I do appreciate them Gaye

  9. Ditto on all the comments from your gathering of mystery lovers. The online used book sellers will be raising their prices on Ms. Green's books after this lot hits the web. May I suggest one of my all-time favorites--Margery Allingham. You probably already know her work? There is also a series of DVDs made I think in the 1990's of her stories, which are set in the 20s and 30s. Some wonderful visuals of that era on the DVDs but do not miss the books!

  10. Diane, No I have not read Margery Allingham- I will remedy that soon. thanks!



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