A story of mystery and crime and is here narrated with an artistic skill which inevitably holds the interest of the reader, even to the point of the highest tension, to the close of the last chapter. It involves a case of wrongful suspicion in a murder, was highly regarded for its insight into legal procedure, and was used at Yale as an example of the dangers of relying on circumstantial evidence.
First published in 1878, nine years before the debut of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, this atmospheric and suspenseful mystery well deserves a modern audience. When someone shoots Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy retired merchant, through the head in his library late one night, the evidence at the inquest indicates that no one could have left the victim's locked Manhattan mansion before the discovery of the body the next morning. Suspicion thus falls on members of the household, specifically the dead man's nieces, Mary and Eleanore, only one of whom stands to benefit from their uncle's death. Everett Raymond, a junior partner in a New York law firm that had Leavenworth as a client, teams with unassuming official investigator Ebenezer Gryce to seek the truth. Green (1846 1935), whose smooth prose remains fresh, makes Gryce an interesting enough character to leave fans of traditional whodunits eager to see more of the detective in reissues of his further exploits.