The British Library has today published The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix, widely considered to be the first detective novel ever published. Originally serialised between 1862 and 1863 in the magazine Once a Week and then published as a single volume in 1863, The Notting Hill Mystery has not been commercially available since the turn of the century, until now.
For years, many considered the first detective novel to be Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, published in 1868, while others have proposed Emile Gaboriau’s first Monsieur Lecoq novel, L’Affaire Lerouge. However, The Notting Hill Mystery can truly claim to be the first modern detective novel and pre-dates both of these by several years.Presented in the form of diary entries, family letters, chemical analysis reports, interviews with witnesses and a crime scene map, the novel displays innovative techniques that would not become common features of detective fiction until the 1920s.
The Notting Hill Mystery features insurance investigator, Ralph Henderson, who is building a case against the sinister Baron ‘R___’, suspected of murdering his wife in order to obtain significant life insurance payments. During his methodical investigation, Henderson encounters a maze of intrigue including a diabolical mesmerist, kidnapping by gypsies, slow-poisoners, a rich uncle’s will and three murders.
The British Library has made this landmark text available once again in a trade edition. This new edition also includes George du Maurier’s illustrations, the first edition to do so since the original publication in serial form.
The Notting Hill Mystery is published by the British Library Publishing, 21 February 2012, price £8.99 / ISBN 9780712358590, 198 x 130 mm, 312 pages http://publishing.bl.uk/
The Notting Hill Mystery is available to buy from the British Library shop www.bl.uk/shop (T +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / email firstname.lastname@example.org )
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He said he was not drunk, but the policeman found him lying on the doorstep © British Library Board
The Baron came back and caught me… He just shut the door close and walked straight up to me. I was so frightened I could not move © British Library Board
Mrs Anderton lay on the sofa, and Rosalie sat on a chair by her side, and held her hand while the Baron sent her to sleep © British Library Board