This week we are featuring the letter G.
For me, that means Anna Katharine Green. If Edgar Allan Poe was the father of American crime fiction, then surely Anna Katharine Green was its mother. She wrote The Leavenworth Case which was originally published in 1878--nine years before Doyle's A Study in Scarlet. It is often considered the first full-length detective story written by a woman. It was an enormous success with the public, reportedly selling more than 750,000 copies in its first decade and a half, and, for nearly half a century, Anna Katharine Green was one of America's most popular authors. She wrote many other mystery novels (over 30), but what reputation she has today rests on this foundational detective story--noted by mystery authority Howard Haycraft as "one of the true milestones of the genre."
Green managed to introduce in her initial novel many of the mystery standbys that fans of the the genre will recognize at once: the crusty old man on the verge of changing his will, the body in the library, a dignified butler, a coroners' inquest (called and arranged in what seems to be whirlwind haste), ballistics expert pinpointing the weapon used, a scene-of-the-crime sketch, and mysterious letters. Readers of today may sigh at some of these components, but would do well to remember how fresh these clues and incidents were in Victorian-era American crime fiction.