"The Science of Deduction" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The opening chapters of The Study in Scarlet. Chapters which give us the one of the most famous meetings of detective story history: "Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, introducing us. "How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly give him credit. "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."
"The Whitechapel Mystery": No fictional short story here. Just an account of the very first of the attributed Jack the Ripper murders--from a newspaper article in the Evening News to the Daily Telegraph's transcript of the first day of the inquest.
"The Assassin's Natal Autograph" by Mark Twain: the opening of Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, this excerpt shows lawyer David Wilson securing the release of an innocent man (and identification of the guilty party) based on fingerprints--well before the first legal conviction using fingerprint evidence which took place in 1902. A bit long-winded in build-up, but a very nice little synopsis of courtroom antics.
"The Murder at Troyte's Hill" by C. L. Pirkis: Starring Loveday Brooke--the first known female detective created by a female author. Miss Brooke is presented as not only an intelligent and independent young woman, but as a woman who has taken up the profession because she is good at it. She's not supporting a sister or a disabled husband. She's not ultra-feminine to make up for her brains. She's just a good detective. In this one, she gets to the bottom of the mystery of who killed Alexander "Sandy" Henderson, lodge-keeper to Mr. Craven of Troyte's Hill. The police have fastened on to the son of the house, but Miss Brooke has reason's to doubt the official reading of the case.
"The Haverstock Hill Murder" by George R. Sims. This features another female detective of the era--Dorcas Dene. Dorcas is a former actress--which makes her particularly adept at the art of disguise. And she puts her art to good use in helping Inspector Swanage discover who murdered Mrs. Hannasford of Haverstock Hill.
"The Stolen Cigar Case" by Bret Harte: Billed as one of the best Holmes parodies (of which there have been many, I have to say that this very short send-up of Holmes and Watson didn't do a whole lot for me.
"The Absent-Minded Coterie" by Robert Barr: Barr wrote short stories which featured a French predecessor to Christie's Hercule Poirot by the name of Eugene Valmont. Valmont has a superior intellect as well as superior vanity to go along with it. Considering that the fact is revealed in the very first paragraph, I don't feel bad about telling you that I'm a bit disappointed to find that the bad guys get away at the end of this story. Valmont is very clever about discovering that Inpsector Hale's quarry is indeed up to no good--albeit not at the crime the English detective suspects. But his vanity and belief in the superiority of French ways enables the culprits to escape with no fear of capture. At least not for this crime.
"The Hammer of God" by G. K. Chesterton: To my mind, a well-known Father Brown story. At least I have seen it reproduced in several collections. But it is a clever short story and shows off Chesterton's detective to good effect as he solves the mystery of how such a staggering blow could be delivered by such a small hammer.
"The Angel of the Lord" by Melville Devisson Post: Uncle Abner is another detective with a religious bent. He is not a clergyman, but he is still very interested in sin and retribution. Abner follows a man and proves how he disposed of both his partner and his horse. I have to say that Uncle Abner's style of speech isn't one that just reaches out and draws me in. Not a very long story, but I couldn't tell that in the reading of it....
"The Crime at Big Tree Portage" by Hesketh Pritchard: November Joe is a regular backwoods Sherlock Holmes. Using methods familiar to anyone who has read the Holmes stories, Joe covers the campsite at Big Tree Portage and holds up clues for his "Watson" Quaritch to see and be mystified by. It's the small indications that lead Joe to the killer of Henry Lyon.
"The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage" by Ernest Bramah: Starring Max Carrados, a blind detective who has hyperacute senses which allow him to unravel an intricate plot--involving a kite, a plate of metal and a few pebbles at a window. He prevents a murder, but is unable to prevent the suicide.
"The Case of Padages Palmer" by Harvey O'Higgins: This features Barney Cook, one of the youngest detectives of the era. Barney begins as a telegram delivery boy and winds up being taken on by Walter Babbing and his detective agency. In Barney's first "case" he helps Babbing track down a man using a very simple clue--the length of his cigar.
"The Intangible Clue" by Anna Katharine Green: One of a set of short stories starring Violet Strange--a young society woman who assists Mr. Driscoll with cases that involve the strata of society where she can move freely. This story involves Miss Strange in a "sordid" murder case--something she never intended to be part of. But...without her observations in the needlewoman's home, the perpetrator would never have been caught.
This is a pretty good collection of early detective stories. Age of course will tell and there are several plots and twists that will seem old hat to regular readers of detective fiction. It's good to keep in mind that some of these stories are showing off these plots and twists for the first time and to try and imagine how mystified the readers in the Victorian age must have been. Three and a half stars for the entire collection.