BEFORE SHERLOCK HOLMES: WHODUNNIT PIONEER ANNA K. GREEN.
Anna Katharine Green, pioneer of American detective novels, wrote her whodunnit , THE LEAVENWORTH CASE, a decade before the debut of Sherlock Holmes. Here is a taste of her writing:
- The victim: The horrible, blood-curdling IT that yesterday was a living, breathing man.
- The suspects: Eleanore and Mary, who will inherit the dead man’s money.
- The butler’s testimony:
The young ladies were attached to their uncle?
Oh, yes, sir.
And to each other?
Well, yes, I suppose so. It’s not for me to say.
The jury respected the reticence of the servant.
- The detective: Who do you suspect? I whispered. Everyone and nobody, he said. It is not for me to suspect but to detect.
- Eleanore despairs: Once a suspect, always a suspect: The finger of suspicion never forgets the way it has once pointed. My name is tainted forever!
- The dead man’s secretary, another suspect?: He had the habitual expression of one who in his short life had seen more of sorrow than joy, less of pleasure than care and anxiety.
- Another victim: The pallor and fixity of the pretty Irish face staring upon me from amidst the rumpled clothes of her bed struck me with so deathlike a chill, that had it not been for one instant of preparation, I should have been seriously dismayed.
- The surprise ending: If a bombshell had exploded at my feet, or the evil one himself appeared at my call, I should not have been more astounded!
Green went on to publish 36 novels and a volume of poems described by Harper’s magazine as “vigorous productions”.