Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction: Letter G

Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise is sponsoring The Alphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname. So you see you have lots of choice. You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow. (It is ok too to skip a week.) Link your post for the week back to Kerrie's site.

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.


Anonymous said...

Bev - What a terrific choice for "G!" You're quite right about Green's place in crime fiction history, so thanks for reminding me of her. I shall have to go back and look at that one again.

Bernadette said...

Oh dear, yet another classic author I've not read anything by.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for this great information Bev. For those with Kindles you can get her neovels easily, including a collection of 25 for $1.99

Bev Hankins said...

Oh, man, Kerrie. That is almost tempting enough to make me want a Kindle. Almost. (I'm strictly a "hold a book in your hands" kind of girl.)

Anonymous said...

An excellent selection. I picked up a green Penguin edition a few weeks ago, and I'm hoping that I can stot it in for K or L.

Yvette said...

My daughter just got a Nook. But I'm still not convinced. I have lots of thinking to do. But thanks Bev, for this post. I'd never heard of Green. She sounds like a true pioneer.