‘The Big Bow Mystery’ by Israel Zangwill

‘First Locked Room Mystery!

Score: 5/5

Israel Zangwill

Before Death In Paradise, before Jonathan Creek, there was this - the first ever ‘locked room’ mystery.

I do like a good puzzle, and something about this particular kind of puzzle appeals to me. SWMBO knows this, so bought me a copy of The Big Bow Mystery for Christmas. It’s out of copyright now, so it’s quite cheap to buy but you can also just legally download it from Project Gutenberg.

The setting could take a bit of getting used to - it’s set, naturally enough, in the 1890s since that’s when it was written. If you’ve read enough Sherlock Holmes (also available free on Project Gutenberg...) you’ll be familiar enough with the language and idioms though.

Did I figure out whodunnit? Nah. By the close of the book I had a few scenarios in my head and one of them was right, but I hadn’t spotted enough clues and discarded enough red herrings to narrow it down. The art of the whodunnit seems to be to give just enough clues to allow things to be figured out in hindsight, while adding a whole heap of misdirection so that the reader can’t sort out what’s important and what isn’t. There’s plenty of misdirecting fun here.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
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