Horatio Leaven-worth is a New York merchant whose material wealth is matched by his eminence in the community and reputation for good works. He is also the guardian of two striking nieces who share his Fifth Avenue mansion. Mary, her uncle's favorite, Is to inherit his fortune at his death. As this mystery opens, that lamentable event has just occurred. Leavenworth has been shot to death and circumstances point to one of his young wards.
First published in 1878, nine years before the debut of Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet, this atmospheric and suspenseful mystery well deserves a modern audience. When someone shoots Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy retired merchant, through the head in his library late one night, the evidence at the inquest indicates that no one could have left the victim's locked Manhattan mansion before the discovery of the body the next morning. Suspicion thus falls on members of the household, specifically the dead man's nieces, Mary and Eleanore, only one of whom stands to benefit from their uncle's death. Everett Raymond, a junior partner in a New York law firm that had Leavenworth as a client, teams with unassuming official investigator Ebenezer Gryce to seek the truth. Green (1846-1935), whose smooth prose remains fresh, makes Gryce an interesting enough character to leave fans of traditional whodunits eager to see more of the detective in reissues of his further exploits. (May)