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The Leavenworth Case, with eBook

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Horatio Leavenworth is a New York merchant whose material wealth is matched by his eminence in the community and reputation for good works. He is also the guardian of two striking nieces who share his Fifth Avenue mansion. Mary, her uncle's favorite, is to inherit his fortune at his death. As this mystery opens, that lamentable event has just occurred: Leavenworth has bee Horatio Leavenworth is a New York merchant whose material wealth is matched by his eminence in the community and reputation for good works. He is also the guardian of two striking nieces who share his Fifth Avenue mansion. Mary, her uncle's favorite, is to inherit his fortune at his death. As this mystery opens, that lamentable event has just occurred: Leavenworth has been shot to death, and circumstances point to one of his young wards. But is that the trail to follow? This classic mystery novel—a tribute to Anna Katharine Green's exceptional plotting and legal accuracy—was famously put to use by Yale University's law school to demonstrate the fallibility of circumstantial evidence.


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Horatio Leavenworth is a New York merchant whose material wealth is matched by his eminence in the community and reputation for good works. He is also the guardian of two striking nieces who share his Fifth Avenue mansion. Mary, her uncle's favorite, is to inherit his fortune at his death. As this mystery opens, that lamentable event has just occurred: Leavenworth has bee Horatio Leavenworth is a New York merchant whose material wealth is matched by his eminence in the community and reputation for good works. He is also the guardian of two striking nieces who share his Fifth Avenue mansion. Mary, her uncle's favorite, is to inherit his fortune at his death. As this mystery opens, that lamentable event has just occurred: Leavenworth has been shot to death, and circumstances point to one of his young wards. But is that the trail to follow? This classic mystery novel—a tribute to Anna Katharine Green's exceptional plotting and legal accuracy—was famously put to use by Yale University's law school to demonstrate the fallibility of circumstantial evidence.

30 review for The Leavenworth Case, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    The Dead Man in the Library If there is anything classic detective stories have ever taught us, it is this – that libraries are probably the most likely non-combat-related places for you to get killed in, with private ones being even more dangerous than those of the public order. There are probably cruel and callous people out there who would think nothing of killing a man over a book – whereas it is doubtless more romantic to kill a man over a woman –, and that’s why libraries usually abound in The Dead Man in the Library If there is anything classic detective stories have ever taught us, it is this – that libraries are probably the most likely non-combat-related places for you to get killed in, with private ones being even more dangerous than those of the public order. There are probably cruel and callous people out there who would think nothing of killing a man over a book – whereas it is doubtless more romantic to kill a man over a woman –, and that’s why libraries usually abound in dead bodies, and also why you should be very careful as to what books you read (especially when you are foolhardy enough to do your reading in a library). Imagine someone finding your body over a bad book – what a bad example this would set to posterity. Being found dead, or preferably alive, over Anna Katharine Green’s novel The Leavenworth Case, which was published in 1878, is something I could live with (yes, I know there is something of a paradox included here), because it is a really entertaining detective novel and probably even has some literary value since Green can be seen as one of the earliest writers of detective novels. Therefore, when the wealthy businessman Horatio Leavenworth is found dead in his library, with a bullet in his head, his murderer is probably not guilty of cliché but of murder only. After all, up to 1878 there had not been too many dead bodies in libraries. The story involves two orphaned nieces, Eleanor and Mary, who were taken into the household by Mr. Leavenworth when they were children, and between whom a mysterious kind of estrangement has arisen. Can it have something to do with the fact that, due to a whim of their uncle’s, only one of them is supposed to inherit the family fortune, whereas the other one is to be left out in the cold? Then there is the English gentleman Mr. Clavering, who seems to be stalking the two young ladies and who even haunts some people’s dreams. And what has become of the Irish maidservant Hannah, who mysteriously disappeared in the night of the murder? These are some of the questions in this generally well-written locked-room-mystery that our narrator, the decent and tactful lawyer (it is a piece of fiction, remember!) Mr. Raymond and the wry detective Ebenezer Gryce find themselves confronted with. By the way, Ebenezer Gryce is a recurrent character in Anna Katharine Green’s fiction, and one may regard him as one of the forerunners of Sherlock Holmes. After all, A Study in Scarlet was published in 1887, some ten years after Gryce had solved the Leavenworth Case and, en passant, displayed some of his quirks. Green’s style reminds me of typical Victorian literature: She has a way with words, but the words also have their way with her, and all in all, it is very readable. [1] A slight demerit, though, I will not conceal, and this is Green’s, or rather her narrator’s tendency to idealize the Leavenworth nieces, and Eleanor in particular. But since not even Dickens, the Champion, is above such kind of sentimental folderol, Green may be forgiven these trespasses against good taste, and let’s not forget: You will definitely be surprised by the solution to this murder mystery. [1] The only thing that really got on my nerves after a while was her excessive use of the expression “in regard to”. This, after a while, made me jump more than any pistol shot could have done.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Such a satisfying story! Nothing at all is as it seems here, making for great mystery reading. Another book I'm very, very happy to have read. Ahhhhhhhh. Let me say the following to anyone who might be thinking of reading this book: There is a very good reason I don't read GR reviews before starting a book, and this time my reasoning proved sound -- after finishing this novel, I cruised through the reviews here, and discovered that there is one person writing about this book who gave away the wh Such a satisfying story! Nothing at all is as it seems here, making for great mystery reading. Another book I'm very, very happy to have read. Ahhhhhhhh. Let me say the following to anyone who might be thinking of reading this book: There is a very good reason I don't read GR reviews before starting a book, and this time my reasoning proved sound -- after finishing this novel, I cruised through the reviews here, and discovered that there is one person writing about this book who gave away the whole show in the first paragraph and another who came close. I'm still shaking my head over why people do this without noting spoilers, but what can you do? Just don't go looking through the reviews here if you want to be surprised. No look back at early crime/detective/mystery fiction would be complete without talking about The Leavenworth Case, which is a true landmark in the genre. In this book the author introduces the first American series detective, Ebenezer Gryce, of the New York Metropolitan Police force, who would go on to be involved in eleven more cases. But it is also, as Kate Watson notes in her book Women Writing Crime Fiction, 1860-1880, "innovative in the introduction of a number of a number of themes and tropes, now familiar to the reader of crime fiction, but then new and exciting. The Leavenworth Case is original in its deployment of ballistics, science, medicine, and a coroner's inquest, the illustration of the crime scene, replica letters, and the inclusion of the locked room mystery. There is a diagram of the murder scene and the layout of the library, hall and bedroom, a ploy familiar to modern readers of the Golden Age detective fiction of Agatha Christie. While some of these elements had appeared in earlier criminography, the way in which Green cleverly combines them locates her text as the forerunner of what Knight has called the clue-puzzle mystery." (122) In short, The Leavenworth Case occupies a sort of transitional space -- here we find a beginning in the movement toward the form taken by more modern mystery/crime/detective fiction. And by the way, Sherlock Holmes hasn't appeared on the scene yet and won't for nearly a decade, but as Watson tells us, "In the wake of Green, women writing crime became almost commonplace in America," listing several women authors, many of them now faded into the fabric of obscurity, who went on to contribute "to the form after The Leavenworth Case." (130) This book is a true whodunit, and unlike my bad luck with modern crime novels, I had absolutely no clue as to the identity of the murderer until the very end. There is much to enjoy about this book -- a preponderance of clues that slowly appear, several people with motive to do away with the deceased, and a number of secrets to be unlocked as the story goes along. And then there are the numerous themes that Green works into her narrative, for example, as Michael Sims notes in his introduction, "female dependence and inheritance laws;" an examination of class constraints are also obvious here. If you enjoy books that turn on secrets then this a good one; I'm someone who just loves this sort of thing. I will admit that the reluctance of the characters to spill what they know got a bit frustrating after a time, and I will also say that some readers unfamiliar with writing during this period might become tired of the rather florid writing style in parts or the more melodramatic aspects of the story that crop up here and there. But in the long run, I found it to be a fine mystery, one I couldn't put down. http://www.crimesegments.com/2017/12/...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This was a super-excellent mystery, and I am awed by its existence. Author Green wrote and published this nearly a decade before Sherlock Holmes entered the world, and many of the conventions of the genre are present in this book. Green also throws in diagrams, codes, and passages written from alternate perspectives, complete with a shift in the tone of the prose. I am amazed that this is the kind of "sensationalist" reading that the public could pick up in the late-19th century. People probably This was a super-excellent mystery, and I am awed by its existence. Author Green wrote and published this nearly a decade before Sherlock Holmes entered the world, and many of the conventions of the genre are present in this book. Green also throws in diagrams, codes, and passages written from alternate perspectives, complete with a shift in the tone of the prose. I am amazed that this is the kind of "sensationalist" reading that the public could pick up in the late-19th century. People probably didn't know what hit them when this gem landed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Published in 1878, The Leavenworth Case is a classic murder mystery written by Anna Katharine Green. Green is credited with developing the modern detective genre with her series featuring NY police detective Ebenezer Gryce. This book is the first of the series and the best known. It has the feel of The Moonstone in its language, formality, and story complicated by Victorian manners and sensibilities. It's also a well-constructed mystery that features many of the devices we've come to recognize - Published in 1878, The Leavenworth Case is a classic murder mystery written by Anna Katharine Green. Green is credited with developing the modern detective genre with her series featuring NY police detective Ebenezer Gryce. This book is the first of the series and the best known. It has the feel of The Moonstone in its language, formality, and story complicated by Victorian manners and sensibilities. It's also a well-constructed mystery that features many of the devices we've come to recognize - a body in a locked room, a beautiful heiress with a dark secret, a missing maid, a forged confession, false identities - it's all there. 3.5 stars, well worth reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    A very interesting novel. You can see what would come out of it (the modern series mystery), but you can also see where it was coming from - the sensation novels of the 1860s, Dickens, and the American sentimental novel tradition.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I'm glad to have found this author. This is apparently her most well known of the many mysteries she wrote. As the GR descriptions says, Mr. Raymond is a lawyer with the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond. He is called to the home of Horatio Leavenworth the morning Mr. Leavenworth's body is discovered, slumped at his desk with a bullet in the back of his head. Mr. Veeley, the senior partner of the firm, was a close friend of Mr. Leavenworth, but, as he was out of town, Mr. Raymond was called upo I'm glad to have found this author. This is apparently her most well known of the many mysteries she wrote. As the GR descriptions says, Mr. Raymond is a lawyer with the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond. He is called to the home of Horatio Leavenworth the morning Mr. Leavenworth's body is discovered, slumped at his desk with a bullet in the back of his head. Mr. Veeley, the senior partner of the firm, was a close friend of Mr. Leavenworth, but, as he was out of town, Mr. Raymond was called upon to try to help Mr. Leavenworth's nieces. This is the first in a series called "Mr. Gryce", who is, of course, the detective. And here let me say that Mr. Gryce, the detective, was not the thin, wiry individual with the piercing eye you are doubtless expecting to see. On the contrary, Mr. Gryce was a portly, comfortable personage with an eye that never pierced, that did not even rest on you. If it rested anywhere, it was always on some insignificant object in the vicinity, some vase, inkstand, book, or button. These things he would seem to take into his confidence, make the repositories of his conclusions; but as for you—you might as well be the steeple on Trinity Church, for all connection you ever appeared to have with him or his thoughts.Mr. Raymond is called upon to assist, and there is another operative called "Q". Oh, of course we know who the murderer was. And of course our opinion changes as further clues are revealed. And maybe even then we are still wrong. I don't know if this is one of the "sensational" novels of the 19th Century, but certainly there are parts that are very much over-dramatized for the 21st Century reader. I am quite used to 19th Century prose, but I think others would not be bothered by it. It is not the convoluted prose of Dickens that so many think of when they think 19th Century. I don't give out 5 stars for mysteries, but this one is quite good. I'll stretch my usual 3 stars for them to 4 and look forward to others in the series.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    The Leavenworth Case was written by Anna Katharine Green and 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 novels, but what reputation she has today res The Leavenworth Case was written by Anna Katharine Green and 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 novels, 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 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, 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. Green's story is narrated by Everett Raymond, junior member of the law firm which has represented the Leavenworth family for many years. At face value, the story seems a simple one. Horatio Leavenworth, a rich merchant and adoptive parent and guardian to his two nieces, mary and Eleanore, is found shot to death at the table in the library of his home. All the doors are locked and everything points to a member of the household. More specifically, evidence--a broken key, an incriminating letter, an overheard bit of conversation would seem to point towards the nieces and the behavior of Eleanore at the coroner's inquest soon draws the attention of police, reporters and nearly everyone present. Raymond, struck by the beauty and plight of the nieces--and particularly drawn to Eleanore, determines to aid Ebenenezer Gryce of the Metropolitan Police in bringing the proper party to justice. It is the work of these two with the assistance of "Q," one of Gryce's operatives that soon brings to light secret relationships, the intention of Horatio Leavenworth to change his will, and the mysterious goings-on the night of the murder when everyone is supposed to have retired to their rooms. The story culminates in a wrap-up scene worthy of the many Golden Age drawing room finales. We even get the criminal's confession with a bit of a twist. Slow-going in parts due to the Victorian style, this is still a gripping story about the tragedy of love, greed, self-sacrifice and betrayal. It is a very complex tale with several layers and a well-built element of suspense. It has also been held up as a prime example of the fallacy of circumstantial evidence--evidence that given certain twists to circumstance is made to fit several different characters for the role of prime suspect. I thoroughly enjoyed myself once I gave myself up to Green's style and found this classic mystery to be every bit the equal of the Sherlock Holmes canon. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    A very fun, old-time mystery/detective novel, much in the vein of Wilkie Collins (though not quite as well done). I had solved the mystery of who-done-it and why about half way in, but that did not keep me from wanting to finish the story and see all the loose ends tied up. In the flavor of books of this era, it is a bit too neatly tied up and unrealistic by modern day standards. It is always important to think about these books in reference to the time in which they were written and without the A very fun, old-time mystery/detective novel, much in the vein of Wilkie Collins (though not quite as well done). I had solved the mystery of who-done-it and why about half way in, but that did not keep me from wanting to finish the story and see all the loose ends tied up. In the flavor of books of this era, it is a bit too neatly tied up and unrealistic by modern day standards. It is always important to think about these books in reference to the time in which they were written and without the benefit of all the stellar mystery fiction that has followed them. Green has a delightful writing style and her detective Gryce was wearing Columbo's trench coat for me throughout the tale. I couldn't help wondering if Green envisioned him as quick-witted and playing a part or as very dense but getting there in the end. It is hard to particularly like Victorian women when they are painted as creatures with the expected sensibilities of their time. I found both Eleanor and Mary's actions incomprehensible, and even the lesser characters of Hannah and Mrs. Belden behaved in a way that mystified me but that I believe might fit perfectly with the expected behavior for women of the era. I suppose I expected a bit more depth in the female characters from a female writer, but I feel the male writers of the time might have portrayed women more realistically. Perhaps the prevailing conventions made Green need to stay within the formula or suffer derision herself. Green has created the quintessential Victorian fiction, featuring contrivances such as shocked gentlemen, over the top reactions, implausible misdirections, sinister mustached strangers, burned and torn-up letters that can be miraculously reassembled, and mysterious keys that unlock both mysteries and doors. I took the ride with her willingly and did not feel cheated in the end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ☯Emily

    Anna Katharine Green was one of the originators of the detective story. Her detective, Mr. Gryce, was created nine years before Sherlock Holmes came on the scene. Ms. Green was an influence on Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle. The story is fast paced with several improbable events. It is enjoyable to read an early detective story written by an American, since the most well-known authors are English. A brief synopsis: Uncle is killed. Uncle's heir is one of his nieces. At first, it looks like the ni Anna Katharine Green was one of the originators of the detective story. Her detective, Mr. Gryce, was created nine years before Sherlock Holmes came on the scene. Ms. Green was an influence on Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle. The story is fast paced with several improbable events. It is enjoyable to read an early detective story written by an American, since the most well-known authors are English. A brief synopsis: Uncle is killed. Uncle's heir is one of his nieces. At first, it looks like the niece who doesn't inherit is the murderer. Later, it appears that the niece who inherits is the murderer. Which one could it be? Is it possible someone else committed the murder? Possible, but is it probable? To find out more, read this early detective classic for yourself.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    The Leavenworth Case published in 1878 and subtitled A Lawyer's Story, is a detective novel by Anna Katharine Green. It is also her first novel and she came to be called "the mother of the detective novel" writing more than twenty detective novels and a whole bunch of other books that weren't about crime and murder and all that stuff. Green first wanted to write poetry, but when her poetry failed to gain recognition, she switched to novels. Her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case, w The Leavenworth Case published in 1878 and subtitled A Lawyer's Story, is a detective novel by Anna Katharine Green. It is also her first novel and she came to be called "the mother of the detective novel" writing more than twenty detective novels and a whole bunch of other books that weren't about crime and murder and all that stuff. Green first wanted to write poetry, but when her poetry failed to gain recognition, she switched to novels. Her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case, was praised by Wilkie Collins, and the best seller of the year. I wonder how many books were published in 1878, were more books published back then or not as many, it's not like people were sitting around watching television, but it seems like it would have been hard to publish a book in those days. No matter how hard it may be, Green became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books. On November 25, 1884, Green married the actor and stove designer, and later noted furniture maker, Charles Rohlfs, who was seven years her junior. He was a actor, stove designer and furniture maker? Sounds like what people do around here, or used to. Every town had a funeral home, but never just a funeral home, it was always ........Funeral Home and Furniture Store. Each and every town had one, when I was a kid I used to wonder if they were selling the dead person's furniture in the store half of the building. We still have the funeral homes but for some reason most of the furniture stores are gone. Anyway, Rohlfs toured in a dramatization of Green's The Leavenworth Case. After his theater career faltered, he became a furniture maker in 1897, I'm not sure where the stove designer came in. But I'm not talking about Green, her husband, and furniture, at least I shouldn't be, I should be talking about The Leavenworth Case so here we go. The story begins with a young man coming in to the firm of "Veeley, Carr & Raymond, attorneys and counsellors at law". This young man asks for Mr. Veeley, unfortunately he isn't available, he's been called out of town, so this young man tells our narrator, a junior partner of Mr. Veeley's, why he is there. It seems that young man is the secretary for Mr. Leavenworth and Mr. Leavenworth has just been found dead, murdered even: “Mr. Leavenworth!” I exclaimed, falling back a step. Mr. Leavenworth was an old client of our firm, to say nothing of his being the particular friend of Mr. Veeley. “Yes, murdered; shot through the head by some unknown person while sitting at his library table.” “Shot! murdered!” I could scarcely believe my ears. “How? when?” I gasped. “Last night. At least, so we suppose. He was not found till this morning. I am Mr. Leavenworth’s private secretary,” he explained, “and live in the family. It was a dreadful shock,” he went on, “especially to the ladies.” “Dreadful!” I repeated. “Mr. Veeley will be overwhelmed by it.” “They are all alone,” he continued in a low businesslike way I afterwards found to be inseparable from the man; “the Misses Leavenworth, I mean—Mr. Leavenworth’s nieces; and as an inquest is to be held there to-day it is deemed proper for them to have some one present capable of advising them. As Mr. Veeley was their uncle’s best friend, they naturally sent me for him; but he being absent I am at a loss what to do or where to go.” “I am a stranger to the ladies,” was my hesitating reply, “but if I can be of any assistance to them, my respect for their uncle is such——” The expression of the secretary’s eye stopped me. Without seeming to wander from my face, its pupil had suddenly dilated till it appeared to embrace my whole person with its scope. “I don’t know,” he finally remarked, a slight frown, testifying to the fact that he was not altogether pleased with the turn affairs were taking. “Perhaps it would be best. The ladies must not be left alone——” “Say no more; I will go.” And, sitting down, I despatched a hurried message to Mr. Veeley, after which, and the few other preparations necessary, I accompanied the secretary to the street." Ok, here are some little details I remember that we may need to solve the crime; Mr. Leavenworth was last seen by the secretary the night before sitting at his desk. He was found in the morning by the same secretary sitting at the same place. Even though he was shot in the head it couldn't have been a suicide, the gun can't be found. Nothing is missing so it isn't a robbery. Here is an interesting thing we must keep in mind to solve the crime: "Employing the time, therefore, in running over in my mind what I knew of Mr. Leavenworth, I found that my knowledge was limited to the bare fact of his being a retired merchant of great wealth and fine social position who, in default of possessing children of his own, had taken into his home two nieces, one of whom had already been declared his heiress. To be sure, I had heard Mr. Veeley speak of his eccentricities, giving as an instance this very fact of his making a will in favor of one niece to the utter exclusion of the other; but of his habits of life and connection with the world at large, I knew little or nothing." I don't even need that to solve the murder, I need to solve the mystery of why he would so favor the one niece over the other and make it clear to everyone. It seems mean, although I guess he wouldn't have had to take them into his house at all. Anyway, once the secretary whose name I can't at the moment remember and Mr. Raymond, our narrator, arrive at the house they find one of the city's finest detectives, Mr. Ebenezer Gryce is there. I found out later that Mr. Gryce is there for most if not all of Green's detective novels. Back to the things we need to remember to solve the murder. The house was locked up for the night, no one could get in, according to the butler that is. He testifies - at the coroner's inquest - that he locked all the doors and windows the night before and they were still all locked when they found Mr. Leavenworth. No one could have got in the house, so that means someone already in the house must have committed the murder. That leaves us with the butler, the cook, Molly the upstairs girl, the secretary who's name I finally remember, Mr. Harwell, and the two nieces, Miss Mary and Miss Eleanore. Oh, and then there's Hannah, or I guess, there isn't Hannah. She is the ladies maid and she is missing. According to the testimony of the cook, the night before Hannah had a toothache so she went to see Miss Eleanore who is good with things like toothaches, headaches, all kinds of aches. She never comes back however, and no one seems to know what happened to her. Oh, and not only was the house locked but the room Mr. Leavenworth was in was also locked and there is no key anywhere. Not yet anyway. See, there is a murder, and in a locked room of course, with no weapon and no key. Plenty of suspects, especially one of those nieces, speaking of the nieces, it is clear - well, it's supposed to be - that Miss Eleanore is the murderer, but Eleanore is also the niece who doesn't inherit anything, wouldn't it make more sense for Eleanore to keep her uncle alive? That was just my first thought when the blame started falling on her. Anyway, as I said, plenty of suspects, locked rooms, and such things, what else do we need for a good mystery story? Just in case we need anything else, there is also a secret marriage, a written confession, another dead body, papers found burnt in a fireplace, all sorts of things that I could name, but I want you to read the story for yourselves and I'll never remember it all anyway. I liked the book, it was a fun mystery story, I'm not sure how early in the book I had it figured out, that's the fun for me, seeing how early in the book I can find the real bad guy. Happy hunting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Koen Kop

    After a promising start, degenerates into tedious, lengthy, verbose melodrama. Lengthy is an understatement - pages of irrelevant chatter interspersed with a few sentences of pertinent information - imagine an entire chapter (27) in which all of this happens: protagonist takes a room with board at the address where a disappeared witness has holed up; he recognizes the landlady as someone he has seen at the local post office trying to conceal two letters ... that's it, that's all - could and shou After a promising start, degenerates into tedious, lengthy, verbose melodrama. Lengthy is an understatement - pages of irrelevant chatter interspersed with a few sentences of pertinent information - imagine an entire chapter (27) in which all of this happens: protagonist takes a room with board at the address where a disappeared witness has holed up; he recognizes the landlady as someone he has seen at the local post office trying to conceal two letters ... that's it, that's all - could and should have been abridged to no more than fifty pages or so. And even then, the terribly unbelievable denouement would be a major let-down. This ain't no Agatha Christie. The more I read detective stories from other members of her sex the more I admire that Queen of Crime.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    The beginning was exceedingly promising: “I had been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond, attorneys and counselors at law, for about a year, when one morning, in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of haste and agitation that I voluntarily rose as he approached, and advanced to meet him.” Mr. Raymond was told that Mr. Horatio Leavenworth, a long-standing client of his firm, had The beginning was exceedingly promising: “I had been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond, attorneys and counselors at law, for about a year, when one morning, in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of haste and agitation that I voluntarily rose as he approached, and advanced to meet him.” Mr. Raymond was told that Mr. Horatio Leavenworth, a long-standing client of his firm, had been shot and killed in his library. That the door was found locked. That there were no signs of forced entry, no signs of any disturbance at all. And that no-one had been in the house, save Mr Leavenworth’s two nieces and his household staff. In the absence of his senior partners, Mr Raymond was in attendance as the coroner carried out his investigation. As the secretary, the valet, the cook, gave evidence suspicion fell upon Mary and Eleanore Leavenworth. Their own evidence did little to improve their situation, indeed it suggested that one or both were hiding something or sheltering someone. But Mr Raymond was charmed, and he was sure that they were innocent, so he undertook to support them and to make further investigations. Now at this point I was intrigued by the story, and by the many features of the story, published in 1878, that had been taken up by other mystery writers in later years. A body discovered in a locked room. A missing key. Fragments of a burnt letter discovered in a grate. A missing maid … But I also saw echoes of a book published twenty years earlier, and that led me to make comparisons to an earlier book that were less flattering to this book. Two young women in peril, with differing natures and differing prospects, and a young man who stepped forward as their protector. I had to think of The Woman in White, but neither Mary or Eleanore could stand comparison with Marion Halcombe, and while I could accept Walter Hartwright, a drawing master, following his heart and putting himself in jeopardy, I found it rather more difficult to accept Everett Raymond, a drawing master, doing the same. But, as a complex plot unfolded, the story held my attention, and my sympathies and my perceptions of the main players shifted. The characters grew. And I saw themes and situations that were very familiar – a society that restricted women, secret marriages, disfunctional families – and were all handled very well. I was very taken with the detective, Ebeneezer Gryce, who I am quite sure would have held his own against Inspector Bucket and Inspector Cuff, and I would have liked to spend a little more time with him. But he was bright enough to sit back and let the oh so willing Mr Raymond do the leg work. Anna Katherine Green created a wonderful mystery but I do wish she had written it a little differently. It was wordy, melodramatic, and often the characters would declaim rather than talk. And I didn’t need to be told that the Leavenworth girls were beautiful and charming quite so many times. The ending was a little disappointing. Not the logic – that worked – but the full confession that came with just a little push. If only there had been a bit more of a push and a bit less of an explanation it would have worked so much better. But I did like The Leavenworth Case: as a mystery, as a period piece, and as a significant book in the evolution of crime fiction.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    If you'd like to read this, it's in the public domain here. It was mentioned (the new Penguin edition) on NPR as a book worth reading, and it is. In the same way that, say, Citizen Kane is a movie worth watching--you have to keep reminding yourself that it's not Green/Welles who are using the clichés, but rather they're inventing them. Aside from her massive contribution to mystery writing in the form of the "series detective", I'd say there's not much here to see if you're not a mystery person If you'd like to read this, it's in the public domain here. It was mentioned (the new Penguin edition) on NPR as a book worth reading, and it is. In the same way that, say, Citizen Kane is a movie worth watching--you have to keep reminding yourself that it's not Green/Welles who are using the clichés, but rather they're inventing them. Aside from her massive contribution to mystery writing in the form of the "series detective", I'd say there's not much here to see if you're not a mystery person by nature. It is very well-plotted, but the characters tend to be flat.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    A rather interesting classic mystery encompassing the likes of guns, millionaires, beautiful young women, obsessed and unusual secretaries, detectives, and inheritance, etc, etc, and all that... Here, a millionaire by the name of Horatio Leavenworth, Esq. is found murdered, a young lawyer decides to get involved in the case, and the range of events that transpires thereafter makes it quite difficult to solve the mystery...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    While the case was interesting and engaging, I can't say that the writing style or the protagonist produced the same impression upon me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ARNE BUE

    The Leavenworth Case, 1878, by Anna Katharine Greene. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Green had an early ambition to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year. She became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books. She is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and devel The Leavenworth Case, 1878, by Anna Katharine Greene. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Green had an early ambition to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year. She became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books. She is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and developing the series detective. Her main character was detective Ebenezer Gryce of the New York Metropolitan Police Force, but in three novels he is assisted by the nosy society spinster Amelia Butterworth, the prototype for Miss Marple, Miss Silver and other creations. She also invented the 'girl detective': in the character of Violet Strange, a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth. Green was in some ways a progressive woman for her time—succeeding in a genre dominated by male writers—but she did not approve of many of her feminist contemporaries, and she was opposed to women's suffrage. Green married the actor, and later designer and artist, Charles Rohlfs on November 25, 1884. Seven years her junior, Charles was made to give up acting by Anna's father before he could marry her. They had one daughter and two sons, Roland Rohlfs and Sterling Rohlfs, who were test pilots. Green died in Buffalo, New York, at the age of 88.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    The pacing (and Victorian sentimentality) may perhaps seem a bit off to modern readers, but this remains a fascinating early example of the detective story genre.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helga

    This could have been a nice and cozy short story, but it was too long and too detailed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Published nine years prior to Sherlock Holmes, The Leavenworth Case has been called one of the earliest detective fiction books. What makes this book great is that in this age where everyone is blabbering about feminism and boo-hooing patriarchy, Ms Green quietly wrote her story and was published in 1878. And is still in print. Proof that good stuff sticks, no matter what the demographics of the author may be. Oh... and according to the introduction, Ms Green inspired Agatha Christie.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    My first have-read book of Anna Katharine Green. The plot, plain as it may seem, will leave you on the edge of your seat till the very last chapter.It was very surprising for me to find that it's not just a mystery book but a love story from the very beginning.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    Well done! An early murder mystery that helped to shape the genre.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    I’m glad that British Library and Poisoned Pen Press have reissued what critics call Anna Katherine Green’s finest work, her first novel The Leavenworth Case. Published in 1878, it predates Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, and Israel Zangwill’s The Big Bow Mystery. In short, Green’s detective novel is one of the first. But I’m glad more for historical reasons than enjoyment. I loved Green’s Violet Strange stories, but this earliest work prove I’m glad that British Library and Poisoned Pen Press have reissued what critics call Anna Katherine Green’s finest work, her first novel The Leavenworth Case. Published in 1878, it predates Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, and Israel Zangwill’s The Big Bow Mystery. In short, Green’s detective novel is one of the first. But I’m glad more for historical reasons than enjoyment. I loved Green’s Violet Strange stories, but this earliest work proves mediocre. The novel is narrated by young lawyer Everett Raymond, a man superficial, priggish and naïve to the point of fecklessness. How feckless? Here’s Raymond being questioned by New York Metropolitan police detective Ebeneezer Gryce on his presence when a woman, an important witness in a murder case, scribbled a letter in Raymond’s very presence: “You never thought to look at its superscription before it was dropped into the box.” “I had neither opportunity nor right to do so.” “Was it not written in your presence?” “It was.” “And you never regarded the affair as worth your attention?” “However I may have regarded it, I did not see how I could prevent Miss Leavenworth from dropping a letter into a box if she chose to do so.” “That is because you are a gentleman. Well, it has its disadvantages,” he muttered broodingly. What a blockhead! Just to seal the deal, Raymond insists that no refined woman could have shot the victim to death. As Gryce sardonically points out, one has only to read the newspaper to discover that pretty ladies can commit some ugly crimes. I can only hope that Green was satirizing the Victorian notion of gentility, but I doubt that to be the case. Predictably, Raymond decides, based only on pretty looks, that the female suspect could not possibly be guilty, and he ventures on from there to try to prove her innocence. How much better this novel would have been if it had dispensed with Raymond and focuses on Gryce and his master-of-disguise sidekick, Morris (nicknamed Q for “query")! Lastly, Green does not always play fair with clues, especially at the novel’s end. The Leavenworth Case is definitely worth reading, if only to get a taste of early Victorian detective fiction; however, readers should keep their expectations in check. In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley, British Library and Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cleo

    I loved The Leavenworth Case; it was a really good mystery by the "mother of the detective novel." It is one of the first American mysteries, published nine years before Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Leavenworth, the wealthy client of Veeley, Carr, & Raymond, is mysteriously murdered in his library, with (seemingly) very few clues to go on. Everything seems to indicate Mary, his favorite niece and heiress, or her cousin Eleanore. But everything is more complicated than it seems...and that's before th I loved The Leavenworth Case; it was a really good mystery by the "mother of the detective novel." It is one of the first American mysteries, published nine years before Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Leavenworth, the wealthy client of Veeley, Carr, & Raymond, is mysteriously murdered in his library, with (seemingly) very few clues to go on. Everything seems to indicate Mary, his favorite niece and heiress, or her cousin Eleanore. But everything is more complicated than it seems...and that's before the second murder. Ebenezer Gryce is the detective, though Mr. Raymond, one of the lawyers is the narrator, and he takes much of the investigation unto himself. This book wasn't overwritten at all. Though there are some long descriptions, they all add a lot to the story, and as Michael Sims, editor of The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime (which I want to read also hint hint) points out, it generally moves at a really fast clip. One thing that annoyed me, however, was how Raymond couldn't conceive of a gentlewoman (Mary or Eleanore) killing Mr. Leavenworth. Sexist. Women can be dangerous. But, that wasn't annoying enough to detract from how much I enjoyed this book. I got it from the library, but now I really want my own copy. It was that good. The clues in this one really build up until you have this complicated puzzle, and really, I loved this one. Once I got past the slight sexism (surprising from a female author), this was a great mystery. And, I actually kind of suspected the murderer from the middle of the book, so I was happy about that. This one was not as suspenseful as Agatha Christie, but suspenseful nonetheless. I would really recommend it to fans of Sherlock Holmes or other smart mysteries. www.novareviews.blogspot.com

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura Bang

    I came across Green while cataloguing some books by her and was intrigued by the fact that she seems to be the first woman to have written a detective story and was a bestseller of her time. The Leavenworth Case is her first novel (after an unsuccessful poetry career) and her most famous so I thought I'd start here. A very interesting early detective story, though naturally very tied up in its Victorian time (originally published in 1878). This book introduces Green's recurring detective charact I came across Green while cataloguing some books by her and was intrigued by the fact that she seems to be the first woman to have written a detective story and was a bestseller of her time. The Leavenworth Case is her first novel (after an unsuccessful poetry career) and her most famous so I thought I'd start here. A very interesting early detective story, though naturally very tied up in its Victorian time (originally published in 1878). This book introduces Green's recurring detective character, Ebenezer Gryce, a quite eccentric but sharp detective, predating the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes by a decade. My one problem was that I read the Project Gutenberg edition, which lacked the diagrams and handwriting samples that are supposed to be included. They're not vital to the plot, most of the clues are described in the main text for the reader who wants to try to solve the mystery along with the detectives. I didn't even notice until more than halfway through the book, when there was a direction to "try for yourself, reader" which caused me to find another edition of the book on Internet Archive and discover what I'd been missing. So if you want the full experience, check to see if your edition has diagrams.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    An early Victorian mystery by one of the most successful American writers of her day. The mystery is a good one with lots of twists and turns, and some truly surprising aspects to it. The writing is sort of florid and sometimes a little hard to get into, but the narrative is still very good. The setup is that a rich man with two wards (his nieces) is found murdered in his library. One of the nieces is suspected, although it's the other one who will inherit all the money. Ebenezer Gryce is the de An early Victorian mystery by one of the most successful American writers of her day. The mystery is a good one with lots of twists and turns, and some truly surprising aspects to it. The writing is sort of florid and sometimes a little hard to get into, but the narrative is still very good. The setup is that a rich man with two wards (his nieces) is found murdered in his library. One of the nieces is suspected, although it's the other one who will inherit all the money. Ebenezer Gryce is the detective who brings together the suspects at the end for a surprising conclusion. Assisting him is a young lawyer, Mr. Raymond, who falls in love with one of the nieces. Although Green did well in her profession as a writer, the key to the mystery is one that will annoy feminists who read this.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dagny

    Although I'd heard of this book as possibly the first detective novel written by a woman, I was a long time getting around to reading it. So glad I did! It was one of the first best-selling American novels with good reason. I was a bit ambilvalent in the beginning as to whether or not I would go on to read more of her books, but as the story progressed it became harder and harder to put down, so yes, I hope to make time in the future for more of Green's books. There are about a dozen novels in t Although I'd heard of this book as possibly the first detective novel written by a woman, I was a long time getting around to reading it. So glad I did! It was one of the first best-selling American novels with good reason. I was a bit ambilvalent in the beginning as to whether or not I would go on to read more of her books, but as the story progressed it became harder and harder to put down, so yes, I hope to make time in the future for more of Green's books. There are about a dozen novels in the Ebenezer Gryce series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Jo Grassi

    What a great read. It started out a little slowly but picked up and held my interest until the very end. I have wanted to read this book for a long time and was thrilled when I was able to get it on my Kindle. This is one of the first books written using a private detective. It was written in 1876 but did not appear dated at all. I love historical mysteries so this had the added benefit of being true to life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Athul Raj

    This is one of the earliest works in detective/ mystery fiction genre. The technique, modus operandi and motive given in this story has been used in many works since. So, an avid mystery fiction reader may find it a bit ordinary. But considering it's year of publication, this one is truly a good one, which I liked and was unable to guess the culprit till the final revelation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    I only made it about 2/3 of the way through this book before I got bogged down by the extremely slow-moving plot. Unfortunately. I realize the literary importance of this book in the detective genre, but it just didn't capture my attention. Then again, I'm not a dedicated fan of detective novels anyway.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I enjoyed reading this classic mystery. There was one big twist I wasn't expecting. I did feel uncomfortable a few times with how much the narrator focused on the beauty of the women (and thus they must be good, as if nothing else matters). But besides that I enjoyed the work.

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