The Dead Letter and The Figure Eight
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Both written in the s and published under the name Seeley Regester, these novels show how—by combining conventions of the mystery form first developed by Edgar Allan Poe with those of the domestic novel—Victor pioneered the domestic detective story and paved the way for generations of writers to follow. Against a background of post—Civil War politics, Richard Redfield, a young attorney, helps Burton, a legendary New York City detective, unravel the crime.
In The Figure Eight, Joe Meredith undertakes a series of adventures and assumes a number of disguises to solve the mystery of the murder of his uncle and regain the lost fortune of his angelic cousin. The Ghost Story Megapack. Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Anna Katharine Green.
Ambrose Bierce. George Pope Morris. The Third Ghost Story Megapack. Gertrude Atherton. Three Ghost Stories. Charles Dickens. Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction. Edith Wharton. Henry James. The Dead Letter. Seeley Regester.
thought of the day:
Mark Twain. John Halifax, Gentleman. Dinah Maria Mulock Craik. Masterpieces of Mystery. Robert Louis Stevenson. The Withered Arm. Jerome Klapka. Thomas Hardy. Dawn of the Morning. Grace Livingston Hill. The Haunted House. Irish Ghost Stories. David Stuart Davies. Augusta Evans Wilson. Various Authors. The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg. Short Stories. Louisa May Alcott. Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum. W H Davenport. Gothic Tales Vol. Nathaniel Hawthorn. Elaine Showalter. Ruth Hall. Fanny Fern. Edgar Allan Poe.
Alastair Gunn. Shaken by revelations of her friend's unhappy marriage, attracted by the friendly neighbor Mr. Trohm, and kept awake by ominous noises from mysteriously locked rooms, Amelia does not enjoy her stay in the Gothic genre. With her humor and stubbornness, however, she manages to solve the mystery again with Mr. Gryce's help and bursts through a few Gothic conventions while she's at it. Green's novels had a far-reaching influence on the mystery genre—any story with an unmarried older woman solving crimes owes a great debt to her. But Miss Butterworth, as appealing as she is, is only part of Green's formula.
The Dead Letter and The Figure Eight
To have a woman, no matter how smart or wealthy, be seen as the equal to a male police detective—and moreover, to have that woman's skills actively sought by police detectives—was a major breakthrough. Amelia's greatest talent consists of spotting clues where others see only domestic details of no importance a ripped dress, a broken hatpin, a misshapen ball of yarn and linking them to motivation and character her observations of human behavior, studied in great detail in her small circle of friends and relatives, applied widely to the human race as a whole.
Those themes, along with the light humor sprinkled throughout Green's books, greatly contributed to the foundation of the "cozy" mystery, a bestseller in all its manifestations even today. Sensationalist novels were the first American fiction to reach bestseller status; Green's work The Leavenworth Case , in fact, was as Nickerson tells us the best-selling novel of that year.
Combining in embryonic form the elements of what became distinct genres such as Western, mystery, romance and adventure fiction, sensationalist fiction in pulp books and in newspapers reflected the mass consumption tastes of America—a rapidly expanding, industrializing America with the dirt of slavery and oppression of women under its nails, a country discovering that introspective literature only led to introspective thought a bad thing when there was so much land to steal from the Indians, so many immigrants to exploit, so many resources to snatch up and hoard.
Like the newly manufactured religions of that era or the widely available cheap beer, sensationalist fiction could be consumed easily and required no thought.
Derided in its day just as genre fiction is today, sensationalist literature had one positive result: women could participate powerfully and meaningfully in a new medium. But the sheer volume of and demand for sensational fiction gave women an opportunity to dive in and swim in those churning waters despite their murky taint and odor of hellfire. Perhaps the pseudonyms were also useful to hide behind when an author was not especially proud of her pot-boiled work.
In her novel Little Women , Alcott confessed how ashamed she was of her own excursions into sensationalist literature.
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Jo March, Alcott's avatar, is initially proud of her moneymaking ability and of seeing her work in print, but when a friend points out the shallowness of her writing, Jo realizes "she was beginning to desecrate some of the womanliest attributes of a woman's character.
She was living in bad society, and imaginary though it was, its influence affected her, for she was feeding heart and fancy on dangerous and unsubstantial food, and was fast brushing the innocent bloom from her nature by a premature acquaintance with the darker side of life, which comes soon enough to all of us.
Alcott's moral qualms may have prevented her from realizing that "acquaintance with the darker side of life" was a necessary feature if women were to participate fully in society—as faulty, shallow, and dangerous as it may occasionally be. In The Figure Eight, Joe Meredith undertakes a series of adventures and assumes a number of disguises to solve the mystery of the murder of his uncle and regain the lost fortune of his angelic cousin. Times may have changed since these books were first published, but good reading never goes out of fashion.
Fans of Louisa May Alcott's thrillers will devour these inventive tales from a pioneer in American detective fiction. Originally published in , "The Dead Letter" is presented here along with another of Victor's mysteries, "The Figure Eight", out of print since its publication. Together, these stories show how - by combining conventions of the mystery form first developed by Edgar Allan Poe with those of the domestic novel - Victor pioneered the domestic detective story and paved the way for generations of writers to follow.
Victor, Metta Victoria Fuller ()
These novels were written under the name Seeley Regester. One evening, on his way to visit his fiancee, Eleanor Argyll, Moreland is killed by a single stab to the back. Against a background of post-Civil War politics including a preoccupation with the United States' relationship to California and Mexico, Redfield helps Burton, a legendary New York City detective, solve the crime.
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