The popularity of the detective story began with the Victorian-era debut of Sherlock Holmes, whose adventures inspired legions of imitators. Subsequent tales of malfeasance and its deduction gradually took a decided turn away from melodrama and toward plausibility, leading to a Golden Age of crime fiction during the 1920s and 30s. The 15 short stories in this anthology, which date from 1905 to 1921, trace the development of an increasingly sophisticated genre even as they abound in the timeless allure of a riveting mystery.
Unconventional characters add to the appeal of these tales: Father Brown, G. K. Chesterton's priest and amateur sleuth, makes his first-ever appearance in "The Blue Cross"; Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, one of fiction's first women detectives, solves "The Ninescore Mystery" by Baroness Orczy; November Joe, Hesketh Prichard's backwoods shamus, investigates "The Crime at Big Tree Portage"; and blind detective Max Carrados exhibits his mastery of "The Game Played in the Dark" by Ernest Bramah. Editor Mike Ashley provides individual introductions to these and other stories, offering intriguing insights into the emergence of the Golden Age of the detective story.