Format Hardcover
Publication Date 06/04/19
ISBN 9781643130712
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 364

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The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

The Greatest Detective Stories: 1837-1914

This masterful collection of seventeen classic mystery stories, dating from 1837 to 1914, traces the earliest history of popular detective fiction.

Today, the figure of Sherlock Holmes towers over detective fiction like a colossus—but it was not always so. Edgar Allan Poe’s French detective Dupin, the hero of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” anticipated Holmes’ deductive reasoning by more than forty years with his “tales of ratiocination.” In A Study in Scarlet, the first of Holmes’ adventures, Doyle acknowledged his debt to Poe—and to Émile Gaboriau, whose thief-turned-detective Monsieur Lecoq debuted in France twenty years earlier.

If “Rue Morgue” was the first true detective story in English, the title of the first full-length detective novel is more hotly contested. Two books by Wilkie Collins—The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868)—are often given that honor, with the latter showing many of the features that came to identify the genre: a locked-room murder in an English country house; bungling local detectives outmatched by a brilliant amateur detective; a large cast of suspects and a plethora of red herrings; and a final twist before the truth is revealed. Others point to Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Trail of the Serpent (1861) or Aurora Floyd (1862), and others still to The Notting Hill Mystery (1862-3) by the pseudonymous “Charles Felix.”

As the early years of detective fiction gave way to two separate golden ages—of hard-boiled tales in America and intricately-plotted, so-called “cozy” murders in Britain—the legacy of Sherlock Holmes, with his fierce devotion to science and logic, gave way to street smarts on the one hand and social insight on the other—but even though these new sub-genres went their own ways, their detectives still required the intelligence and clear-sightedness that characterized the earliest works of detective fiction: the trademarks of Sherlock Holmes, and of all the detectives featured in these pages.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Davis’s collection offers the pleasure of undiscovered countries.” Booklist
“For lovers of American literature and horror fiction fans, this important anthology reveals how the religious beliefs, historical events, and folktales of the colonial period influenced the writerly imaginations that led to the evolution of the modern horror genre.” Library Journal (starred) [praise for 'Colonial Horrors']
“A welcome addition to early English detective fiction anthologies. Solid entries will be new to many.” Publishers Weekly
“A well-curated collection of creepy, spooky, and downright weird pieces by a core group of American authors. As the nights grow cooler and the shadows longer, stoke the fire and curl up with this excellent example of true American horror.” Booklist [praise for 'Colonial Horrors']
“Rather than the gothic castles of Europe, these feature witch trials and dark and foreboding forests. The colonial period was truly the birthplace of American horror, as these stories point out.” The News-Gazette [praise for 'Colonial Horrors']