The Red Headed League

“The Red Headed League” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One day Sherlock is approached by a man with red hair who has a very unusual problem. A Mr. Jabez Wilson is the owner of a pawn shop. It used to be prospering but since then has fallen on hard times. He now only has one assistant, a bright young man named Vincent Spaulding, who is willing to work for the low wage even though he deserves much more. Spaulding loves photography and has his own developing room in the cellar.

Hmm…

Two months earlier, on April 27th, his assistant bemoans his lack of red hair and shows Wilson an advertisement he found in the newspaper.

TO THE RED HEADED LEAGUE:

On account of the bequest of the late Ezekiah Hopkins, of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., there is another vacancy open which entitles a member of the League to a salary of £4 a week for purely nominal services. All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind, and above the age of twenty-one years, are eligible. Apply in person on Monday, at eleven o’clock, to Duncan Ross, at the offices of the League, 7 Pope’s Court, Fleet Street.

Wilson was not one to got out and had never heard of anything like the red headed league, but his assistant had. It was founded by a millionaire who was red headed and has created a fund to give money and assist other red heads.

Apparently the league is only confined to London, as this American first started his business there, and they only accept those with real red hair, bright and blazing not auburn or any dark shades. The work is light and it means an extra £100 a year.

Wilson decides to try out, but is disheartened at seeing all the other red-headed men. He wants to back out, but his assistant won’t let him and on he goes. He gets picked to continue and gets his hair practically ripped out as they must test that it is really red.

He is chosen and given £4 a week for just copying out the Encyclopedia Britannica.

He gets going all the way to Attica, but then it all ends.

He goes to the league and finds a notice upon the door.

THE RED HEADED LEAGUE IS DISSOLVED

Wilson tries to track down the people, but the landlord says they were just renting it until his offices were redecorated. When Wilson goes to the address provided for the offices he finds a factory and that no one had even heard of the league or the people involved.

Sherlock Holmes believes he has figured the case out. Will he catch the Red Headed League Red Handed?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved this story.

It was fantastic, thought provoking, and altogether a great story. And the conclusion,

You should defintely check it out.

Read it today!

For more by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, go to A Scandal in Bohemia

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Sign of the Four

For more short stories, go to The Utterly Perfect Murder

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Secrets Can Kill

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Betty and Veronica: Stranger Than Fiction

So I was reading an old Archie ComicBetty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine No. 129, and found a fun mystery that I thought I would share with you all.

Yay!

Betty and Veronica talk about their love of Nancy Drool (Nancy Drew) and their imaginations take over:

For more of these type of posts, go to 11 Famous Murder Riddles

For book reviews, go to The Falling Machine

A Scandal in Bohemia

 Print

“A Scandal in Bohemia” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

Thoughts Before Reviewing:

Now that we have done the first two novels of Sherlock Holmes, we have moved into his short stories. As with all short stories, I’ll be posting them on Sunday instead of during the week (except for a few special cases).

I grew up reading the short stories or cases of Sherlock Holmes, and I think my favorite collection growing up was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It just has so many good and memorable tales.

So “A Scandal in Bohemia” is probably a story you are familiar with.  I’m sure many of you have probably read this story or seen the Sherlock version (which I hated)

They didn’t do it right!

It is one of my favorites and I am glad to share it with you all.

Plot Synopsis:

The Bohemian King comes to Sherlock for help, first in disguise but of course Sherlock sees through that, to ask for his help. He is to be married, but before the engagement he had had a relationship with the beautiful Irene Adler. He has tried to get it back a very incriminating photograph through begging, payment, bribery, theft, etc; but nothing has netted it.

Nothing is working!

Sherlock does some reconnaissance on her and ends up being the witness at her wedding!

Seriously?

Sherlock continues on his plan to get the photograph by dressing up as a minister and having Watson create a fuss about fire in order to determine the secret hiding place of the photograph. When Irene goes to retrieve it and protect it, Sherlock spies on her and leaves planning on returning the next day for it before she leaves on her honeymoon.

On the way home he is greeted by a young boy, one he does not know but that isn’t very odd, after all he is a known figure. The next day the three men set out to retrieve the photograph but find Irene gone.

What?!

Irene has left a note explaining that she thought there was something suspicious about the “fire”, dressed up as a boy to research it, and figured out the plan of Sherlock Holmes; besting him by leaving that night.

She leaves the picture behind, as she is married she no longer needs it; forever going down in history as the one who bested the greatest detective, and becoming the woman.

Thoughts After Reading:

One of my favorites as Irene just kicks butt.

She’s everything we want to be: intelligent, cunning, beautiful, witty, etc. And she is the only one to outsmart the Sherlock Holmes.

For more by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, go to The Sign of the Four

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more short stories, go to The Murders in Rue Morgue

For more mysteries with private detectives, go to The Missing Housewife

For more mysteries that involve a wedding, go to Murder Well Done

The Sign of the Four

TheSignoftheFour

The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

**Contains Spoilers**

So the second book of Sherlock Holmes has us go on as equally an interesting adventure.

We begin the case with a Miss Morstan coming to Sherlock to get assistance with a problem. And immediately Watson finds himself attracted to her.

“In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. “

Miss Mostan comes on the recommendation of her employer, a Mrs. Cecil Forrester, who Sherlock Holmes helped before. Her father was an officer in an Indian regiment, and sent her to a boarding school in Edinburgh after her mother died. She stayed there until she was seventeen, when her father took 12 months leave and planned to come home. He telegraphed her in London than he was safe and to meet him at the Langham Hotel. When she arrived she couldn’t find him, and the manager told her he was there but left.

Since then no one has seen him since and the police have been unable to discover anything.

Luggage was left at the hotel with nothing missing. Her father had only one friend lived in London, Major Sholto, but he didn’t even know that Captain Morstan had returned to the country. That was December 3rd, 1878, ten years ago.

But then six years ago, on May 4th, 1882; as advertisement appeared in the newspaper asking after a Miss Mary Morton, saying it would be to her advantage to answer.

When she did s small cardboard box came to her containing a large pearl, but no note.

Since then every year on the same day, May 4th, a similar pearl arrives. She took them to an expert and they were pronounced rare and valuable.

But this morning she received something different; a note that troubles her.

London, S.W.

July 7

Be at the third pillar from the left outside the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock. If you are distrustful bring two friends. You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.

I wonder…

Sherlock agrees to take the case, planning for Dr. Watson and him to accompany Miss Morstan on her meeting.

Holmes looks at the note, studying it and leaves to find the answer to what pricked his mind.

While he is gone Watson can’t get Miss Morston out of his mind, but tries to move past it, Who could want an ex-army surgeon, with a weak leg, and weaker bank account?

Holmes returns much later than planned with some news. Major Sholto died on April 28, 1882. Within a week of his death a pearl arrives for Miss Morston and follows every year? A letter talks about a wrong that has happened to her. What other than her father’s disappearance could be the wrong? And why presents, unless Sholto’s heir knows something about the whole thing.

Miss Morston comes in the carriage, and they start away. She can’t believe Major Sholto would do anything, as he was her father’s best friend. However, she has a new clue to throw in the mix. A piece of paper found with his belongings that no one could quite figure out what it was. She gives it to Sherlock.

Sherlock examines it and  sees that it is from India, part of a blueprint for a large building, with a + and “3.37 from left” written in red ink. In the left hand corner, a symbol that looks like four crosses in a line with the following

++++ The sign of the four- Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, Dost Akbar.

I wonder…

Sherlock can’t see how it relates now, but asks Mary to hold onto it.

They head to Lyceum Theater where the crowds are thick. Before they even reached the destination point, they are approached  by a coachman. They are invited into a coach and travel to an unknown location, a house that appears to be the only one on the block that is occupied. They are met by an Indian servant, who lets them know that the sahib is waiting.

The sahib is Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, Major Sholto’s son. The house on the outside may look worn and neglected, but in this room are riches. After they introduce themselves Thaddeus asks Watson to examine his heart, as he worries about it.

He reveals that Miss Morston father is dead, that he died of a heart attack. (But then why wasn’t the body found?)

He wants them to help settle this matter, to be a united front against his brother Bartholomew. He then tells his story. Major John Sholto was a part of the Indian army but retired 11 years ago and moved to Pondicherry Lodge in Norwood. Thaddeus and Bartholomew lived in luxury with many Indian servants. However all was not happy. Their father was afraid to go out alone and hired ex-prize fighters as body guards. He avoided men with wooden legs, and shot at one once; who was later revealed to be a harmless tradesman. In 1882 he received a shocking letter, that nearly caused him to faint. He suffered previous medical conditions and by April was reaching the end.

Major Sholto then shared his guilt at never helping Miss Morston and asks his boys to give Mary her share of the Agra treasure, but not until he died. Morston and Sholto had come into a large treasure and brought it over from India to England.  When Morston came from India he meet with Sholto and wanted his share of the treasure. Sholto and him argued about what was fair, with Morston becoming angry and his weak heart gave out, making him fall, crack his head, and die. Major Sholto then told his son to make sure that Mary received the father’s share and that the treasure was hidden…

After asking them to promise that, Major Sholto started to yell and scream “keep him out”. The two brothers turn to look and see a bearded man with a wooden leg. They try to get him, but he escapes. The next morning the whole house was searched and one message left behind.

The sign of the four

Their father died and then the two brothers dug everywhere searching for the treasure. Bartholomew didn’t want to part with the pearls, but Thaddeus sent them as they was his father’s last wish. The two argued and Thaddeus left to set up his own home. Yesterday, Thaddeus received word that the treasure was  found, and valued at half a million.

The group sets out to talk with Bartholomew, Watson a little saddened ay he state of affairs as to how could a millionairess ever want him?

When the reach Pondicherry, they find a strange state of affairs. The servants will let Thaddeus in but no others. To make things even stranger, Bartholomew hasn’t been out of his room all day.  And even though he is in there and expecting them, there is no light in the window. Strange.

Thaddeus goes in while the rest wait outside. Mary is frightened and grabs Watson’s hand.

Inner squeal!

They don’t wait long before Thaddeus comes running back out. He knows something is wrong but not what, they all rush indoors and up the stairs to his room.

He and Watson break down the door and see Bartholomew with a hideous smile fixed upon his face. Bartholomew is dead.

Above him there was an opening large enough for a person to pass through. A piece of rope on the ground and a brown, close-grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer. Beside it a note

The sign of the four

By his ear was a long dark thorn stuck into the skin. A poisoned one according to Sherlock. Watson grows grim at them ever figuring things out.

“On the contrary,’ [Sherlock Holmes] answered, ‘it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.”

Meanwhile, Thaddeus has discovered that the treasure is gone. Yesterday they lowered it into the room through the ceiling and locked it up at ten last night. What happened since then? Holmes sends Thaddeus  to tell the police of the death and assures him he will figure this out.

Holmes deduces it was the one-legged man aided by another, a sailor; and they dropped one of them in through the hole in the ceiling.

The police arrive and suspect Thaddeus of killing his brother, just what Thaddeus feared. Sherlock urges the police to follow his lead. The first man was a Jonathan Small (one of the original four). He’s small, poorly educated,  with a wooden leg. The other, too little info yet to determine who he is.

Watson takes Mary home and then heads to a home near the water’s edge to pick up Toby, a dog with the best nose for hunting down criminals.

When he returns he discovers that not only has Thaddeus been arrested, but the gatekeeper, housekeeper, and Indian servant.

The two examine the house closer, seeing the path that the one-legged man took. They also find his thorns dropped in his hurry to leave. They then set Toby upon it and head out after him.

Watson is still mystified as to what happened but Sherlock sets him right. Two officers were in command of convicts and learned an important secret about where the treasure was buried. Jonathan Small drew a map, putting his name and his associates in the corner. The officers took the treasure, one bringing it over from India. Jonathan Small couldn’t get it himself as he was a convict and in jail. What had upset Major Sholto, was that he had received a frightening letter, a letter about Small’s escape. He then tries to protect himself from the one-legged man. Small tried to get the treasure, but his presence interrupted Shlolto from revealing it to the sons. He searched the whole house but found nothing.

Smalls kept watch and when the brothers finally found the treasure he and his associate broke in and killed Bartholomew, escaping with the treasure. Toby takes Watson and Sherlock down to a wharf, where they discover that the one-legged man and his associate have gone in the water.

The two head home while Holmes employs his street urchins to root out some info. He does figure out more about the assistant. He turns out to be a cannibal from the island Andamand.

Watson heads over to Mary to give her an update and stays for most of the day. When he  returns home nothing has come to pass.  That night Sherlock dresses up as a sailor and heads out to the river to try and find some answers.

It was a long day with no answers as Watson waits for Holmes’ return. Athelney Jones, the inspector joins them and soon an old man arrives, but it turns out to be Holmes himself.

That night they head out to the ship Aurora and capture Smalls. He reveals all that Sherlock Holmes surmised is true, even Tonga, the islander, having killed Bartholomew.

Watson brings the box to Mary and tells her of the good news, The two break it open but find it empty.

Where is the treasure?!

But this gives Watson the courage to tell Mary how he feels. And she responds the same.

Yay!

They return to Smalls but he won’t reveal a thing about where the treasure is, other than he has hid it where none shall find it. They never discover its whereabouts, Smalls goes off to jail, and another case closed for Sherlock.

It ends with Watson sharing how he is engaged to Mary, soon to be married. So ends this story, but many more are right around the corner.

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thoughts it had great action, drama, mystery, everything you could want.

I highly recommend it for any Sherlock fan.

And I’m pretty sure that this story is what The Great Mouse Detective writers took a lot from when creating their story. The peg-leg, dressing up as a sailor, Toby, missing father, etc.And I love that film so it definitely already set the foundation for how much I would enjoy this.

But whether you are  Sherlock or Basil fan, you should definitely take a look over this book. It was fantastic.

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more classic mystery novels, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more mysteries with a treasure hunt, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more mysteries involving poisonings, go to Catering to Nobody

The Murders in Rue Morgue

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue (C. Auguste Dupin Mysteries #1)” from Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allen Poe

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was the first Edgar Allan Poe story I ever read. It came in an anthology and I loved it. It is just so creepy, dark, and great.

This is also believed to be the first detective mystery, Dupin being the forerunner to Sherlock Holmes in observation and sleuthing, Many believe that Doyle coped Poe with his character fifty years later, even though Doyle insists that Holmes is based on a professor he had while attaining his medical degree.

Plot Synopsis:

C. Auguste Dupin is from a very good family, but has lost all his money and is now poor. He has just a little bit of money, which enables him to live and afford his greatest vice, books.

Dupin lives with his friend, the nameless narrator, and astounds him with his deductive reasoning, being able to tell what he is thinking!

One morning they look in the paper and see the headline EXTRAORDINARY MURDERS.

 

The night before Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, residents of Rue Morgue, were heard screaming in the middle of the night. People heard and tried to get in, but every door and window was locked on the ground floor. They eventually gained access by using a crowbar.

When they came in the room they found it in incredible discord and destruction.

WHAT!

The women were found was a razor caked with blood and gray tresses also dripping in blood, looking as if ripped from the head. Both women’s necks were cut so badly they were practically separated from their necks. Both women were also shoved up the chimney.

Everyone was questioned but no one knows why it was committed, who did it, or how. Everyone who came in heard the voice of whoever committed the act but could not understand the language. Some think it was Spanish, others Italian, etc.

Dupin becomes interested in the case and follows it in all the papers. The only thing that was open was a window on one of the higher stories. But how could anyone get in?

Dupin believes he has the case solved and places an ad in the newspaper to catch the killer. Has he figured it out? Who could have done such a horrible act?

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this story so much. You’ve got to read it for yourself.

For more Edgar Allan Poe, go to Murder He Wrote: Edgar Allan Poe

For more short stories, go to The October Game

In other news this is my 200th post, Yay! It only took me ten months to reach it.

To go to the 100th post, go to Jenna’s Journey

A Study in Scarlet

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A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thoughts Before Reading:

For those of you who don’t know, this month marks the 128th anniversary of this book. Published in July of 1888, these characters have found a way into all our hearts.

So Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite literary detectives.

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I’ve read almost all his stories, seen countless films and TV shows, and just all around enjoy his character. His massive intellect and keen observational skills are just so admirable, I can’t resist him.

So A Study in Scarlet is the first novel to have this brilliant detective. Many assume it is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s detective character that came out year’s before, Charles Dupin, but Doyle insisted that it was based on one of his professors.

So while the novel is split into two parts, in my opinion it is actually divided into three.

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Part I: Mr. Sherlock Holmes

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In this we are introduced to Dr. Watson. Shortly after he received his medical degree he was attached to the military as their assistant surgeon. He was sent off to India, where he was wounded and sent to a hospital. There he had even worse luck, catching a fever and becoming severely ill.

BigBangTheoryMyliferightnow

After that he was sent home, honorable discharge, where he decided to move to London. Staying in a hotel he quickly burned through his money and found himself in need of cheaper lodgings.

oopsmybad

He runs into an old friend who tells him of an acquaintance that is also looking for a roommate, a Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Paget_holmes

We are first introduced to Sherlock Holmes doing an experiment in which he has found a way to prove how old blood is and whether a stain is blood or not. He also knows that Dr. Watson has recently returned from Afghanistan.

wow

Sherlock tells him about the rooms and when Dr. Watson and he look over the place and hear the rent price they find it most agreeable.

wantyouyes

Sherlock Holmes is not a difficult way to live with.  He is quiet, had his own habits he stays firmly by, has extensive energy when interested in something, but would have moments when he was hit by a “mood” and wouldn’t get up for months. Watson notices at times he looks like he is under a drug (opium) but Watson cannot believe such a man devoted to cleanliness could do such a thing.

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Sherlock knows nothing of contemporary events or anything that he feels does not relate to his studies. In fact Watson lists of everything he does and doesn’t know:

  1. Knowledge of Literature — Nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy — Nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy — Nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics — Feeble
  5. Knowledge of Botany — Variable. Mostly poisons, nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology — Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance the different soils from each other.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry — Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy — Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensation Literature — Immense. Knows every detail of ever horror perpetuated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an excellent singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Sherlock is also a keen observer and tells Watson how he knew of his time in Afghanistan. He also shares about how he often helps the police solve crimes. And at that very moment, a Marine comes with a note that Sherlock is wanted.

Interesting

Interesting

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Part II: The Lauriston Garden Mystery

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Sherlock receives a note from Detective Gregson to come to Lauriston Gardens as they are at a loss to how the crime was committed and by who?

WhoDoneIt?

Sherlock invites Watson to come along, and the duo are off. When they arrive on the scene, Sherlock surprises Watson as he doesn’t rush inside the house to search it, but spends a long time looking at everything, from the ground, to the sky, to the house’s outside, etc.  He notices that a cab has been there. but neither Gregson or Detective Lestrade or their men know anything about that.

suspicious Hmm

The victim is about 43 or 44. He is dressed well in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat. . His hands were clenched and arms thrown abroad while his lower limbs were interlocked as though he went through a struggling death. A look of hatred on his face and blood everywhere, but no wound on the corpse. A woman’s wedding ring is also found, along with the word “RACHE” painted on the wall.

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The detectives believe the word to have been Rachel but cut off. Sherlock points out that the murderer was male, over six feet high, smoked a trichinopoly cigar, had a florid face, long fingernails on the right hand, killed the man by poison, and that rache is German for revenge.

Whoa

The two them head down to the first officer on the scene, John Rance. They learn from him that there was a drunk there that night, but they just sent him off. Sherlock berates the man as this drunk was clearly the murderer, a cabdriver which explains the cab marks left behind.

You let him get away!

You let him get away!

Sherlock sends out advertisements in the newspapers about a found wedding ring knowing that by using it, it will be the perfect bait for the trap.

Meanwhile, the detectives have discovered that their victim was acting ungentlemanly toward his landlady’s daughter. Her brother was on shore leave, and is known for a temper. They know the two got into it and to make it worse, just like in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, they discovered the brother with a bloody walking stick.

Not-Good

Sherlock of course doesn’t believe that and is set on his way. To his surprise, he is approached by a woman saying it belongs to her daughter. Sherlock follows her, but looses her in the crowd. Is Sherlock wrong?

thenannygasp

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Part III: The Country of Saints

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Here we get our killer’s backstory and reasons for poisoning these people. Back in Utah, John Ferriar’s wagons traveling west have been destroyed and everyone is dead except for him and a young girl, Lucy. With all gone, John adopts the young girl.

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As they are dying of thirst, they come upon some Mormons who allow them to join their group and save them from death. Over ten years layer, John’s farm has prospered and Lucy has grown into a fine, beautiful woman. All the young Mormon men want to add her to their families and John’s land to their own. But both John and Lucy don’t want to become ingrained with the Mormons, in fact Lucy falls for Jefferson Hope, silver miner and son of John Ferriar’s old friend.

love

With the Mormons threatening the group, Hope and Ferriars hatch a plan to escape.

gotthis

However, the plain is foiled and Hope is left stranded in the desert. When he gets back to the area he discovers that both Ferriar and Lucy have died.

luke-noooo-o

He decides to avenge their death and tracks them down all the way to England to kill them.

avenged

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really loved the first two parts of the novel when we are introduced to Sherlock and his investigation.

loveitSupernatural

Amazingly well written and a definite winner.

fantastic

However, I didn’t really care for the Utah backstory. It was boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

The book would be better without it, but even with it it is still good.

likeit

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For more on classics, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more private investigators, go to Decked

The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Ready for our last Christmas mystery review? Here you go.

EdwinDrood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

*Contains Spoilers*

Background:

This book is known as the unsolvable mystery due to one reason, it is unfinished. Charles Dickens began writing this in the summer of 1869, when he was sick and ailing, dying a year later and leaving his last mystery unsolved.

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It has stumped and angered people for over a hundred years as no one knows what happened. Did something bad happen to Edwin? Did he leave of his own free will? Was he murdered? Kidnapped? If murdered who is the killer? It can be very frustrating.

arghfliptablesangry

In fact many people have tried a hand at solving the “unsolvable crime”.

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford. In this version John Jasper tries to kill Edwin, but he escapes.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickins’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made Ned and Helen Indian, John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So as you can see there is a lot of what other people wanted the book to be like, but what is the actual story? Let’s take a look.

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Now let me say before we begin, I HATED this book.

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I know!!!! I can’t believe it either. I LOVE Charles Dickens. I LOVE everything he has written. It pains to to even think about writing these words, but this book sucked. Really sucked. So what went wrong? Let’s review what made this Dickens’ fan upset.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Synopsis:

So the first problem I have with this particular edition, not with Dickens’ actual book, is the introduction by , who tells the reader that the killer is John Jasper.

What?

Hello this is A MYSTERY!!! You just don’t tell someone the end unless you say spoilers ahead. I mean HOW COULD YOU!!!

That be like if in Bones, they decided that instead of you trying to use the hour to figure out which of the people is the killer, they just told you in the beginning. Heck no. You do not do that. That is beyond horrible. How could you!!!!

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Screw you Peter Ackroyd! And may all your writings be filled with typos for the pain you have caused!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So from now on, anything in the review will be on Dickens work. Let’s get started.

So any of you who have read a Dickens’ book, you know the basic formula. We are given a group of characters, and as they develop we end up discovering that they are somehow all more closely related than we could ever think. Lots of great scenes, memorable lines, and extremely lovable characters.

This book is not like that at all.

Not-Good

So we start of with John Jasper, choirmaster in a small Cathedral town (based on Rochester), who is at the moment residing in an opium den.

What?

Yeah, that’s some serious commentary for an opening. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure.

wow

Anyways, he had this vision of murdering his nephew, Edwin Drood. Edwin and Jasper are very close in age, only about five years apart. When his parents died, Edwin was sent to live with his grandparents. After their deaths, he was sent to his uncle Jasper’s. As the two were close in age, they became more of a relationship of brothers rather than uncle and nephew. Edwin is the only one to call Jasper “Jack”, and Jasper the only one to call Edwin “Ned”. And why would Jasper wish to kill his nephew/almost a brother; keep reading to find out.

suspicious Hmm

So Jasper is a huge opium addict, but no one notices. They all see his shortness of breath, sallowness of skin, tired eyes; but they all accept his explanation of not sleeping well. I think part of it is the fact they would never consider a gentleman, especially one who is employed in a church, could be on drugs.

impossible

Anyways, Edwin is now residing in London, learning the engineering trade as he inherits his father’s business at the age of 21. He will also be getting wed to his father’s best friend’s daughter, Rosa “Pussy” Bud (I know what a stupid name to give a child). He is currently visiting the town to see Jack, and visit with Rosa as it her  birthday.

Now Rosa is not only the fiancé of Edwin, but is also being given music lessons by Jasper. He keeps a sketch Edwin made of her over the mantle, leaving me to guess that there is more than singing that Jasper wants from Rosa.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

I know in Emma, Mr. Elton took the picture of Harriet Smith because he liked Emma, and she painted it; but in this case I don’t think the reason he hangs Rosa in a place of honor has anything to do with Edwin being the artist.

Edwin is being kind of sarcastic about his upcoming nuptials with Rosa as he doesn’t want to marry her and he doesn’t really want to become an engineer. When his father wrote the will, he put in it about the business and getting married to Rosa, of which Rosa’s father did the same in his will. Edwin doesn’t hate Rosa or engineering, he just hates the fact that his life has been written out for him.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Jasper gets very angry at him treating Rosa that way, that she is too good for him. Edwin apologizes and agrees.

We then meet Rosa.

Hate her that's so raven

I have disliked a few literary characters in my time but none as much as Rosa Bud. Ugh. She is just so horrible and infuriating. I dislike her more than words can describe.

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So Rosa lives in a school for young ladies, residing there ever since the death of her parents. She very much does not want to get married to Edwin, and because she’s not adult enough to talk to him about her feelings, she just whines the whole time and tries to hurt Edwin in every way she can. Instead of acting like the 18 years she is, she acts like a five-year old having a tantrum.

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She goes on about how absurd the whole engagement is, calls Edwin ugly, that she never wants to dance with him, and tells him that she’s tired of him. Now what about this character is so charming that everyone would fall in love with her.

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She’s just jerk to me.

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Now this character would work if she was innocent and naive in not knowing how this hurts or affects him, in a sense having no filter but just saying anything she thinks of feels. But that is not how the character is written. In this she is upset and unhappy and is purposely striking out against him. She knows what she is doing. I mean think of Brave. Merida was someone you loved because she was just being herself. She didn’t understand, until the end of the film, that being an adult means you have responsibilities and that every choice you make will have an outcome that you have to be ready for. When she shoots the arrow at the bullseye, “winning her own hand in marriage”, she’s not doing it on purpose to snub her family, culture, and say that her suitors are unworthy; she just is thinking as a child. A type of ” I want this so I’m going to do this”. Rosa knows she is purposely being cruel to Edwin, and instead of being an adult and either accepting the marriage, making the best out of it: or choosing to say no to her fortune an not marry Edwin; she decides to make his life Hell.

you're evil

So they go for a walk and Rosa tells Edwin they are going to play a game. In this game Edwin is engaged to someone else and she is engaged to no one. Edwin doesn’t really want to play, but she constantly pushes him, until he gives in. He starts describing his “fake fiancé” making her appearance the opposite of Rosa. The “girl” is nice, charming, has a big nose, likes engineering, and is happy to have to move to Egypt with Edwin when he inherits the company. And Rosa gets Jealous.

really?

I can’t be- I mean seriously, seriously. She gets SUPER JEALOUS of a IMAGINARY FIANCE of a guy SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE. Like what is wrong with her? She is incredibly crazy. As Edwin goes on to describe “the fake girl” Rosa says the most horrible things. That his “dream girl” is gawky, with gigantic nose that is incredibly red, so ugly skinned she has to use powder, that is supremely stupid, etc. She then goes on to make fun of engineering and Egypt.

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Like what is her deal? Why does everyone fall in love with her? I mean this is a common character in Dickens’ work, there is always a female that every guy is crazy about. But in his other books, they actually have an appeal about them. In Great Expectations, Estella was cruel and cold, yes, but not all the time. As she was trained to be a heartbreaker, her adoptive mother’s weapon upon men, she at first made the men fall for her, only to after crush every bit of them afterwards. In A Tale of Two Cities, Lucy was loved by all, as her father was the only male character not interested in marrying her, but she was sweet, kind, and caring. Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist; sweet, kind, gentle, and pure. I could go on, but I think you get the point that Rose sucks.

Hate her that's so raven

So I was kind of done with this novel at this point. The plot was extremely boring thus far. Jasper is a jerk trying to scam on his nephew’s fiancé and a tad deranged by opium. Rosie is obnoxious, cruel, and extremely annoying. The only character I care  for is Edwin, but even he can’t carry the whole book.

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But I didn’t give up. I continued on, and you want to know why? Why I bothered to continue reading something I knew I would not love no matter what? All because I purchased the book The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland at a library book sale, and knew I could not read it until I had finished the original. So I pushed on.

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So Edwin and Rosa argue some more, Rosa stupidly with Edwin not winning no matter what he says. However, this whole time Jasper is spying on them (further proof he is in love with Rosa) and Rosa tells Edwin to take her back to the house.

Durdles, the stonemason for the crypts & graveyards, is talking with the Mayor about his late wife’s tombstone. Jasper runs into to them, and goes off with the mayor. He returns that night to speak to Durdles about the “mysteries of the crypts”.

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Reverend Septimus, the minor canon, is taking in twin orphans, Neville and Helena Landless. Neville will stay with the Reverand, while Helena will move into the school that Rosa resides. The twins’ ages are not stated but they are around the ages of Rosa and Edwin (18-21).

The two are from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka, island off the coast of India) but it is not stated whether they are of that descent of if their family was British. It describes them as dark, but do they mean tanned “dark”, dark coloring as in hair, or dark as in Indian? I guess it doesn’t matter that much.

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Their mother remarried when they were young, and died when they were still children. They had been living with a cruel stepfather who used to starve them, not give them any clothes, beat them, etc. He’s lucky he died before Neville decided to kill him.

Because of this upbringing, Neville has a quick temper, sees faults and injustice in almost everything, and can be sullen and rude.

Hate this.

Hate this.

So the Landlesses join the Reverend and his mother for their Wednesday get togethers; with Edwin, Rose, and Jasper joining them like always. Ned sees Rosa and falls for her instantly, ( I can’t imagine why). Jasper sets out to play while Rosa sings like usual. This time, Rosa can’t be in Jasper’s presence and completely freaks out, throwing another tantrum. Helena recognizes that Rose is five-year-old in a woman’s body and carries her away to lie down on the sofa.

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Edwin tells everyone that Rosa was nervous in such a large crowd (two extra people). He kids with Jasper about him scaring her, and Jasper leaves. The Rev. decides that the night is late and the party ends. Rosa and Helena go home in which Helena asks about her and Edwin. Rosa complains about it to Helena. And all I can think is Helena is a saint. If I had been through all she had been through (plus if she is Indian, then she has not only experienced emotional and physical abuse but also prejudice), and then heard the sob story of rich Rosa being so upset because she has to get married to a nice guy; I’d be like girl please. Shut up and come back to me when you have a real problem.

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But Helena says nothing of the sort, just asks Rosa to be her friend.

Helena then shares her observation that Jasper is in love with Rosa. Rosa is utterly disgusted by Jasper as he scares her, haunting her thoughts; proclaiming his words of love not in words but in the melody he plays, etc. Now this part confused me. I mean WE the reader know Jasper is bad. He is an opium addict and contemplating killing his nephew; but why does Rosa think so? We aren’t presented with anything he has done to scare her. It just doesn’t make sense. Why is he so villainous?

What?

Anyways, the boys have done their duty of escorting the girls home. Edwin finds himself attracted to Helena, and I have to admit for a moment I thought “maybe he and Helena will get together instead of him and Rose”. Then I realized that was a stupid thought as the book is called The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He must die or disappear.

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Neville tries to congratulate Edwin on his upcoming marriage, but Edwin is not that excited. This makes Neville angry as he doesn’t know the way Rosa treats Edwin. The two get into a fight with Jasper coming along and breaking it up. He brings them in for a drink to smooth things over, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Neville is jealous of all he thinks Edwin has and remarks that he would be better of he had experienced hardships in his life instead of having things “easy”. Now I know Edwin has money and his life mapped out, but things haven’t been exactly easy. He’s had to go through the death of his parents and grandparents; both being people who have raised him. That’s a hard loss. He also has a shrew of a fiancé. It may not be the same as Neville’s experiences, but it is far from “easy”.

Neville and Edwin get into another fight. Neville calls Edwin common, and Edwin retorts that he “may know a black common fellow…but you are no judge of white men.” Ah, so they are most likely Indian.

Uh-oh

Oh

Sorry, back to fight. Neville is offended and flings his drink at Edwin. He is about to send the glass, but Jasper stops him and he sends him home.

The next day, Jasper comes to see the Rev. and tells him he must send Neville away, as he is crazy and fears that he might hurt Edwin. The Rev. defends Neville and says that he will stay.

Rumors start flying about the attack, each time painting Neville as eviler and eviler. It does not look good.

Not-Good

So now we switch to my least favorite character, Rosa, who is having a meeting with her lawyer Mr. Grewgious. Let me say, I love this man. Favorite character of the book. He is so awesome and adorable. Awerable. Adorsome.

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He gives Rosa a copy of her father’s will, and is planning on giving one to Jasper, as he is Edwin’s guardian. Rosa pleads to give it to Edwin instead, and Mr. Grewgious agrees to. Rosa asks him about the will and what would happen if she and Edwin were not to get married. Mr. Grewgious says, absolutely nothing.

What?

It seems as if everyone has misunderstood. Whether or not they will marry, both were inherit all of their family’s wealth. There was never any setup betrothal by the parents, they just hoped and wished the two would fall in love and marry.

wow

The Rev. speaks to Neville, telling him he must leave Rosa alone as she is engaged and not free to be anything to him. You may not like Edwin or approve of how he treats her, which to me I saw no big tuzzle, but he is her fiancé and will be her husband. So back off and back very far away.

seriously

Jasper comes to see the Rev. and speaks more of his fears that Neville will do something. He shows him the journal entries he wrote about how scared he is and how he feels evil coming out of Neville. The Rev. convinces him to give the boys another chance to be friends. A couple days later he comes back with a note from Edwin, who agrees with the Rev. He asks Jasper to invite Neville to Christmas Eve dinner.

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Back in London, Mr. Grewgious has asked Edwin to come by so that they may clear up a few particulars. We are introduced to his paralegal, a Mr. Bazzard who does not wish to be a lawyer and is mopey and rude.

How rude

Anyways, Mr. Grewgious pulls out Rosa’s mother’s ring. Her father gave it to Mr. Grewgious for safekeeping, to be given to the man who was to be Rosa’s husband. He tells Edwin that when he places the ring on Rosa’s finger it will it an unbreakable seal that they are to be married. If Edwin has any doubts at all about the marriage, the two should break their “pre-engagement” and Edwin should return the ring to Mr. Grewgious.

Jaspar and Durdles meet up for Jasper’s tour among the tombs. They see quick-lime along the way, something used to decompose the body quickly. While they are doing that, Jasper sees the Rev. and Neville walking and spies on them. He can only hear his name, Christmas, and that this is all in confidence. It doesn’t take a genius that the Rev. is discussing the dinner, and Jasper’s fears; trying to convince Neville to be calm.

Jasper gives Durdles a bottle of liquor, which quickly knocks him out. When Durdles wakes up, his key is next to him, not in his pocket. You know what that means, Jasper purposely brought the alcohol because he knew Durdles would drink to excess, and then he could still the key and unlock a door to a crypt.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Edwin comes to see Rosa, who is enjoying her last Christmas party at school as her and Edwin are supposed to be married soon. Edwin isn’t happy as the conversation with Mr. Grewgious has really pickled his conscience and leaves him unsure as to whether or not he should marry her. The ring hangs heavy in his pocket. The two go off together and Rosa says she doesn’t want to marry him, she wants them to be like brother and sister. Edwin is a little hurt at her words, but agrees that he doesn’t love her in any other way.

eh

Both are happier with the decision, but Edwin is worried about Jasper. He knows how much Jasper cares for him and how heartbroken he will hear that they won’t be getting married, as he will be hurting for Edwin.

Rosa is also worried that with her and Edwin no longer engaged, Jasper might voice his attraction. She decides the best person to tell him will be Mr. Grewgious, and Edwin agrees.

It turns out that Jasper had been spying on them. Unfortunately, he was much too far away to hear anything and assumes that by their happy faces they are eager for the wedding day.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Neville Landless is preparing to take a walking tour (hike) of his new country, not only to look at it but to separate him from his infatuation of Rosa. Before he leaves that night for Christmas Eve dinner, he packs his clothes and his brand new walking stick, which is iron shod. He is ready. The Rev doesn’t like it, thinking it is extremely heavy, but Neville says it will be good for his practice as he has never hiked before. He promises to write Helena every other day.

Edwin goes to do some errands, stopping at the jewelers to get his watch fixed. The jeweler hardly ever sees Edwin as all he wears is his watch and chain and a shirt pin. As he is heading out he runs into a women who looks tired and torn up. It is Princess Puffer, the women who runs the opium den that Jasper was visiting at the beginning of the novel. She has followed Jasper to warn the Ned Jasper was trying to kill in his opium dream, but has lost him. She is begging for money to return home, and Edwin takes pity on her giving her some. She asks what her benefactor’s name is. When he says Edwin, she asks him if he is ever called Ned, warning him that that is a dangerous name to have.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

The next day Jasper goes charging to the Rev’s house demanding to know where Edwin is. The Rev has no idea what he is talking about. He tells them that Neville came over, the boys hung out, and then Edwin and Neville went off to look at the storm and never came back.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Neville had started early that morning, and its not long after that he is accosted by eight men. They fight with Neville, him using his walking stick to brain a few. They eventually overpower him, and it turns out they set out to get him after Jasper raised the alarm.

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Jasper sees the blood on Neville and his stick and starts pointing fingers. Neville retorts that when attacked by eight people he quickly defended himself, pointing to the men in the group that he smacked.

A group of people start checking the banks for Edwin, while Jasper spreads about town his suspicions surrounding Neville.

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Mr. Grewgious comes to see Jasper and tells him that Edwin and Rosa broke off the engagement. They were worried in how Jasper would take it, so Mr. Grewgious was elected to bring the news. Jasper faints.

When he awakes he is joyful, as he now hopes that Edwin took off for fear of upsetting Jasper, and wasn’t murdered. Mr. Grewgious is a little shocked by how quick his demeanor changed and very suspicious.

HMMM

The Rev. walks about the river weir, upon which he pots something shiny. It turns out to be Edwin’s watch, chain, and shirt pin. No doubt about it. Something bad happened to Edwin Drood.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Six months have passed, and because of the mistrust the people had against Neville, he has moved from the town to London. He has an apartment next to Lietenant Tartar, who recently inherited a massive fortune and land. As he has always lived at sea, he is slowly working his way up to bigger and bigger living places, in hopes of one day being fully comfortable in his inherited home. Tartar is the best character on this whole entire book. I just love him.

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A stranger appears in Cloisterham, who has a huge shock of white hair and goes by the name Datchery. We never find out who he is, but I always thought it was one of the characters in disguise, but which one?

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Meanwhile, after waiting six months Jasper decides now is the time to make his move. He tells Rosa that he is madly in love with her. How he has hidden his affections for the love of his nephew.  When that doesn’t work he tries to blackmail her by saying he has evidence that will prove Neville a killer, marry him or else.

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Rosa is confused as why does that affect her. Neville doesn’t like her, and never said anything. Jasper tells her that if Neville suffers, so will his sister and she doesn’t wish to hurt her best friend, does she?

you're evil

Rosa takes off. She is so worried, but manages to get down to London to see Mr. Grewgious. She tells him everything along with how Jasper frightens her so.

The Rev. comes to see Mr. Grewgious, as the headmaster was worried as to what happened to Rosa. He is told the while story and also sees Lt. Tartar, who turns out to be an old buddy of his from school. Rosa stays at Lt. Tartar’s house until they can find her other arrangements. As Helena is visiting her brother, she hears Rosa and the two girls are reunited.

They find Rosa a place, of which Miss Twinkleton, one of the Headmistresses, has promised to come and chaperone her. Rosa enjoys Lt. Tartar’s company and in my reading of it, if the book had been finished the two would have married.

Wedding

Jasper returns to the opium den. When he leaves, Princess Puffer follows him. Jasper conducts his usual singing, with Princess Puffer watching from behind a column. Datchery speaks to her, and finds out who she is. He then goes home and marks the cupboard door.

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Thoughts after reading:

I didn’t care for this mystery at all. I thought most of the characters were boring or annoying. The mystery seems to point to one conclusion, that Jasper did it, which is no real mystery at all. It just was not what I expected from Charles Dickins.

And I don’t completely blame him as he was ill, and in that state he was having a hard time making things the way he usually did. But yeah, this book was just not that good.

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For more Christmas mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

Murder He Wrote: Edgar Allen Poe

Many of you may not be aware of the fact that we all have a certain man to thank for the mystery genre. Edgar Allen Poe.

What?

Yes, Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic fiction not only began a new genre, but his character Inspector Dupet is what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock Holmes on. So here’s to Edgar Allen Poe, father of the mystery and detective genre.

Here is a brief summary of a few of his stories involving murder and mystery.

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Keep an eye out as these too will be reviewed in the future.