21 July 2011

Forgotten Book: X.Y. Z. A Detective Story, Anna Katherine Green

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 70 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TPT4AE
  • Source: I acquired it ($0.00)
  • Published 1883
Story outline

The detective who is the central character, employed by the United States Government, is hot on the trail of some counterfeiters when he discovers that a Massachusetts post office is being used by a gang to drop instructions in envelopes addressed to X. Y. Z.

Here is the "hook".
    Sometimes in the course of his experience, a detective, while engaged in ferreting out the mystery of one crime, runs inadvertently upon the clue to another. But rarely has this been done in a manner more unexpected or with attendant circumstances of greater interest than in the instance I am now about to relate.
The gang have established a pattern in picking up the letters and so the detective's curiosity is piqued when a young man arrives at the "wrong time" and asks for X.Y.Z's correspondence. When the new arrival collects the letters he hands all but the last one back to the postmaster saying they are not for him. The detective decides to follow him and observes a murder.

My take

X. Y. Z.  A DETECTIVE STORY is one of a number of Anna Katherina Green novels and novellas available free for Kindle from Amazon.
My attention was drawn to it recently by Margaret@BooksPlease in the Crime Fiction Alphabet for Letter X.

As Margaret says in her mini-review "It’s written in a somewhat formal and stilted style, and is melodramatic" but even so it is interesting to note how much it seems to have in common with writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins, at the same time realising that the writer is a woman.

Wikipedia says this of her: Anna Katharine Green (November 11, 1846 – April 11, 1935) was an American poet and novelist. She was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and distinguished herself by writing well plotted, legally accurate stories.
She apparently wrote about 40 stories, including The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year.

X.Y. Z is really a novella or an extended short story and takes almost no time to read.

It is one of a number of Green's books available from Gutenberg Project if you are looking for something other than an .azw file. Click here for a full list of books.

My rating: 3.6

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