The dead body of a woman was found under a large cabinet. But she had been dead four hours before the cabinet fell upon her. The owners of the house had been on vacation and the place empty. Who was she and why was she in the empty house all alone? This murder mystery is being showcased in this book.
First published in 1897, this cleverly plotted mystery from Greene (1846 1935) introduces Amelia Butterworth, an elderly spinster "of Colonial ancestry and no inconsiderable importance in the social world," who lives alone in Manhattan's exclusive Gramercy Park neighborhood. One night, she's awakened by the sound of a horse-drawn cab pulling up outside the mansion next door. A man and a woman alight and enter the house, which Miss Butterworth knows to be empty. Ten minutes later, the man leaves. She subsequently summons the police, who investigate and find the body of a woman lying crushed beneath "a fallen piece of furniture." Det. Ebenezer Gryce arrives, and the competition begins: who will solve the murder first? Much of the book's enjoyment stems from Miss Butterworth's spirited discussions with the 77-year-old Gryce and her seeming lack of self-awareness. She describes herself as "not an inquisitive woman" and having a "dignified deportment," while those around her see her as pushy and nosy. This inaugural volume in the Library of Congress Crime Classics series, featuring the first woman sleuth in a series, is a must for genre buffs. Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the book's title.