The significance of author Anna Katherine Green (1846-1935) upon American detective fiction cannot be underestimated. Not only was she among the first writers of the detective story in the United States but in her career she penned over 40 novels and short stories in the genre. She turned her literary attention from writing poetry to crime mysteries and published ‘The Leavenworth Case’ to great acclaim in 1878. Indeed this debut work is still regarded as an enduring classic. Furthermore, while most of us are familiar with the detectives of the New York Police Department as they have appeared in books, films and on television for decades, it was Green who was among the first to focus on the detectives of the NYPD as principal characters and, through her Detective Ebenezer Gryce offer him and the force to the public in series form. In the grand tradition of the sleuth Gryce has a number of ‘sidekicks’ including the nosey socialite, Amelia Butterworth—an embryonic Miss Marple. Green also wrote about another now familiar character type, the ‘girl detective’ in the form of debutante Violet Strange. These tales of the NYPD are set against the colourful world of the city of New York in the last two decades of the 19th century and this provides both the crimes and the characters that occupy these mysteries with an irresistible and unusual old world charm. This special Leonaur edition of the Detective Gryce casebooks comprises six substantial volumes and includes both novels and short stories featuring the famous criminal hunter. This final substantial volume includes the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and ‘A Matter of Millions.’ We believe this six volume collection is the most complete collection of Gryce stories ever gathered together and is therefore an essential addition to the library of any collector of classic American crime fiction.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
The packet might have been removed from the table before that gentleman took his place at the curtain, and if so, the probabilities were that he did not even know of its existence.<br>
“Let me see,” quoth Dr. Cameron to himself, “if I can transfer myself back into that alcove-room and into the presence of that despairing girl.” And he dropped his head forward on his hands, shutting out to the best of his ability all sight and consciousness of surrounding objects. “It was a picture not soon to be forgotten. Let me see if I can recall it.” And he bent his mind upon that departed scene and soon beheld rising before him in distinct detail, the large, stiffly-furnished room, with its one occupant kneeling on the lonely hearth, watching with tearless but most miserable gaze, the burning of a single sheet of paper. “A single sheet,” he repeated to himself, “like the roll, but not part of it. For that was tied up with a tiny blue ribbon and lay apart and by itself on a table some few feet away.<br>
Had she been burning the roll the circumstances would surely have been different. She would have held it in her hand or the ribbon would at least have been untied and the sheets laid ready to her reach. No, the paper she burned was a draft of the note she afterwards left for Dr. Molesworth, and though the recollection was a dim one, he felt quite certain he had also observed a folded paper laying beside the rolled ones. Of the ink-bottle and pen he retained a decided impression; and he even remembered how the pen lay half on and half off the table, as if it had rolled thus far and stopped.<br>
But the roll, the roll! What had she done with it? Burned it afterwards? There was no proof of this. There had been plenty of testimony as to the finding of the one charred bit of paper he had seen blazing on the health, but none as to the discovery of the much greater quantity which the destruction of the roll would have occasioned. How then had she disposed of it? He tried to put himself in Mildred Farley’s place and see; tried to realize what she would do if these letters were what he imagined them to be—tokens of affection from the man she no longer desired to marry. She would not leave them behind her to be returned to him by careless and possibly inquisitive hands. They were too sacred for that, possibly too precious.<br>
Since she had not had the courage to return him these compromising sheets at the moment he had displeased her, she would take them with her and keep them till time and opportunity came for disposing of them with propriety. She had accordingly put them into her bag; and since, from a nice calculation of time and distance, he had already satisfied himself that she must have gone without any delay uptown, he concluded that she had carried them into Mrs. Gretorex’s house. But had they gone out with her? That it was not so easy to determine; for let alone the possible interference of Mr. Gryce, the purpose and determination of Dr. Molesworth showed him perfectly capable of opening her bag and taking out these papers either before leaving the house or during that hideous ride he took with her dead body. But if he had not meddled with them, and Mr. Gryce was ignorant of the fact of their existence, where in Mrs. Gretorex’s house would he find them?<br>
Why in Genevieve’s room of course? And where in Genevieve’s room? As he asked himself this question, he raised his head and unconsciously glanced about. As he did so his eyes fell on a certain chintz-covered sofa that filled one corner of the apartment in which he sat; and remembering that it was the one article which Genevieve had requested to have brought over from her old home, he rose hurriedly and approached it. It was old, it was ugly, it was uncomfortable; he had never seen her lie or even sit on it, and yet she had not been easy till it was brought into the house and established in this bijou room, where each and every object surrounding it was a work of the highest art and greatest expense. There must be a reason for this interest in so incongruous an article. Could it be—He did not complete his thought, but rapidly stooped and ran his hand around the seat. He stopped suddenly. He had touched something smooth and firm and round. It was a roll of paper, and the moment he drew it out he recognized it for the one he was in search of, by the look of the writing upon it and the small thread of blue ribbon that surrounded it.<br>
It was one of those cases where perverse or illogical reasoning still brings one directly to a definite issue. There had been a dozen contingencies against the hope that he would find that roll still in existence, and in a spot available to him, yet they had all gone for nothing, and the one line of argument he had allowed himself to pursue had brought him straight to the object he was seeking. It does not happen often, but it happened in this case and he accepted the result with gratitude.<br>
But before pursuing the matter further; before even undoing the roll he held in his hand he went in to look at his wife again, for he was not easy long away from her side, and though the minutes had been few since he had seen her, an occurrence of such importance had taken place that it seemed as if hours instead of minutes had elapsed.<br>
He found her lying just the same, only her hand had found its way outside the coverlid, where it lay, white and still as moulded wax. He felt an infinite tenderness as he saw it, and stooping, imprinted a kiss upon it with a sensation of tears that was new in the life of this hitherto free and self-reliant nature. Had she seen his look and felt that kiss would the shadows have lain so thick upon her eyes, and the mist of her unconsciousness been so heavy?<br>
When he returned he closed the doors between, and took up the roll. About to pierce the secrets of another soul, he had a moment of recoil. But an instant memory of his purpose gave him the hardihood he required, and tearing off the simple blue ribbon that held the sheets together, he smoothed them out before him, and took his first glance. Great heaven! this was no man’s writing; nor was it such as he would expect from the woman he believed Mildred Farley to be. It was—He stopped with a gasp, looked around him to see that he had not lost control of his reason, then glanced back. The effect upon him was the same. If it was not his own wife’s writing it was so like it—Jumping up, he procured the two or three notes she had written him before they were married and compared them with the lines lying before him. Chirography was identical. The words he was destined to read were Genevieve’s written to whom, and for what? That was the secret it had now become his duty to penetrate.