In the Shadow of Agatha Christie: Classic Crime Fiction by Forgotten Female Authors 1850-1917
In the Shadow of Agatha Christie: Classic Crime Fiction by Forgotten Female Authors 1850-1917, edited by Leslie S. Klinger, is a thoughtfully selected, entertaining collection of 16 Victorian- and Edwardian-era short fiction pieces by female authors who "paved the way" for Agatha Christie's entry into the genre. Their stories feature an inspiring cast of female heroines, including a spirited female detective outsmarting her male counterpart and a courageous private investigator undercover as a lady's maid. There's even a debutante detective, Violet Strange, who leaves a ball mid-dance and races to the scene of a crime while still wearing her exquisite gown.
Klinger (In the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes) is well practiced in the art of exposing worthy but mostly unremembered contributors to early crime and mystery fiction. With In the Shadow of Agatha Christie, he offers the reader a colorful selection of stories by British, Irish, European, American and Australian authors, including the Hungarian-born Baroness Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel). In her short story "The Regent's Park Murder," Orczy conjures a cozy murder mystery set against the backdrop of foggy Victorian London, with all the clever elements of a successful Agatha Christie drama.
Set primarily in domestic and social settings evoking the preoccupations of their time, stories such as "Mrs Todhetley's Earrings," "The Case of the Registered Letter," "The Adventure of the Clothes-Line'" and "The Ghost of Fountain Lane" contribute in the most delightful way to the dawning of critical literary success for female writers of crime and mystery fiction. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer