THIS DETECTIVE STORY CLUB CLASSIC is introduced by Dr John Curran, who looks at how Anna Katherine Green was a pioneer who inspired a new generation of crime writers, in particular a young woman named Agatha Christie.
When the retired merchant Horatio Leavenworth is found shot dead in his mansion library, suspicion falls on his nieces, Mary and Eleanore, who stand to inherit his vast fortune. Their lawyer, Everett Raymond, infatuated with one of the sisters, is determined that the official investigator, detective Ebenezer Gryce, widens the inquiry to less obvious suspects.
The Leavenworth Case, the first detective novel written by a woman, immortalised its author Anna Katharine Green as ‘The Mother of Detective Fiction’. Admired for her careful plotting and legal accuracy, the book enjoyed enormous success both in England and America, and was widely translated. It was republished by The Detective Story Club after Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, speaking at the 1928 Thanksgiving Day dinner of the American Society in London, remarked: ‘An American woman, a successor of Poe, Anna K. Green, gave us The Leavenworth Case, which I still think one of the best detective stories ever written.’