A Southern town scandalized by the murder of its most prominent citizen uncovers a mystery even more shocking in this ironic suspense story from a great American master
Afraid for her infant son’s life, a slave switches the boy with her master’s child. A young New York lawyer fascinated by palmistry and fingerprint analysis moves below the Mason–Dixon line, makes a bad joke, and is immediately and forever branded a “pudd’nhead.” Two Italian noblemen pay a visit to Dawson’s Landing, Missouri, and become prime suspects in the murder of a local judge.
From these disparate plot strands, Mark Twain fashions a humorous and entertaining tale with all the elements of the traditional murder mystery: a case of mistaken identity, a gruesome crime, a sinister villain, an eccentric detective, a climactic courtroom showdown, and an ingenious solution. But beneath this potboiler’s pomp and circumstance lurks a clear-eyed and savagely compelling indictment of slavery and its poisonous effects on American society.
Twain’s last novel set in the antebellum South, Pudd’nhead Wilson offers his clearest and most provocative condemnation of racial prejudice.
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