Follow Friday ~ The Westminster Detective Library

Murder will out …. Taking a slight detour from the usual Jane Austen and Regency Period fare here at Jane Austen in Vermont, I shall alert you today to the website The Westminster Detective Library

Hosted by McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland:

It is the mission of the Westminster Detective Library to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” (1891).

We have posted our working bibliography and will add full-text copy of its entries as we prepare them. We welcome comments and solicit both additional bibliographical entries and texts.

LeRoy Lad Panek
Mary M. Bendel-Simso
-McDaniel College

A work in progress, the site offers a short tales by Dickens, Poe, Wilkie Collins, and a good number of more obscure writers, the first story from 1834,  “A Story of Circumstantial Evidence” by Daniel O’Connell.  You can access the stories from the Bibliography, where you can browse by title, author, or chronologically.  Stories are formatted as they may have originally appeared in a journal or newspaper, but the handy “printer-friendly” button allows the more modern full-screen view you may print out for bed-time reading, the best place for any and all detective fiction.

As murder seems to be on my mind [more on my escape from the elegant Regency to the dark side of Victorian London with a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in a future post], I point you to a new work on just this subject: murder in Victorian Britain.  Judith Flanders, author of the very enjoyable informative work The Victorian Home, as well as Consuming Passions, and A Circle of Sisters, has just published The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime:


In the nineteenth century, murder – a rarity in reality – was ubiquitous in novels, in broadsides and ballads, in theatre and melodrama and opera – even in puppet shows and performing dog-acts. As Punch wrote, ‘We are a trading community, a commercial people. Murder is doubtless a very shocking offence, nevertheless as what is done is not to be undone, let us make our money out of it.’

In this meticulously researched and compellingly written exploration of a century of murder, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping and gruesome cases, the famous and the obscure, the brutal and the pathetic – to build a rich and multi-faceted portrait of Victorian society. The Invention of Murder is both a gripping tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.

‘Dare I say it would be a crime not to read this book?’  – Donna Leon

[Image and text from Judith Flanders website]

And so as I now appear to be obsessed with murder, I also remind you of the running of the Agatha Christie murder mysteries on Masterpiece Theatre – beginning this past Sunday with “Murder on the Orient Express“.  This PBS summer series includes: (online viewing dates in parentheses following the national broadcast date)

  • May 22 (May 23 – Jun 5) Poirot: “Murder on the Orient Express” (Encore)
  • (May 23 – Jun 21) “David Suchet on the Orient Express: A Masterpiece Special” 60 min. (Encore)*
  • May 29 (May 30 – Jun 12) Marple: “The Secret of Chimneys” (Encore)*
  • Jun 5 (Jun 6 – Jun 19) Poirot: “Appointment with Death” (Encore)*
  • Jun 12 (Jun 13 – Jun 26) Poirot: “The Third Girl” (Encore)*
  • Jun 19 (Jun 20 – Jul 19) Poirot: “Three Act Tragedy”
  • Jun 26 (Jun 27 – Jul 26) Poirot: “The Clocks”
  • Jul 3 (Jul 4 – Aug 2) Poirot: “The Hallowe’en Party”
  • Jul 10 (Jul 11 – Aug 9) Marple: “The Pale Horse 


Copyright @2011 by Deb Barnum at Jane Austen in Vermont 

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