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The Notting Hill Mystery

Charles Felix

Book Overview: 

The story deals with the then newly emerging field of 'mesmerism' which we now know as hypnotism, and its use in the planning and execution of three truly devious crimes. The novel, unsually, is written wholly in the form of a series of letters and reports gathered by the investigator from the various witnesses in the case, and the reader is left to decide themselves the guilt or otherwise of the chief suspect.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Mr. Anderton being also, as stated in Mrs. Ward's letter of the 14th June, 1851,[2] extremely delicate.

Of this gentleman all accounts agree in stating that the chief ailment was a constitutional nervousness, mental as well as physical. The latter showed itself in the facility with which, though by no means deficient in courage, he could be startled by any sudden occurrence however simple; the former, in his extreme sensitiveness to the opinions of those about him, and his dread of the slightest shadow of reproach on the name of which he was so justly proud. In the accompanying documents you will find instances of both these idiosyncrasies.

In the summer of 1854 Mr. Anderton's attention seems to have been drawn to the subject of Mesmerism. They had been spending some weeks at Malvern, where this science seems particularly in vogue, and had there made acquaintance with several of the patients at the different water-cure establishments, by some of whom Mr. . . Read More

Community Reviews

to hunt down/look into. Wanda found a site: Read here. Thanks for your incredible sleuthing skills, Wanda.

Opening is The Private Enquiry Office, Clements Inn, London, January 1958: GENTLEMEN, In laying before you the extraordinary revelations arising from my examination into the case of the late...more

This story was first published in 1862 and 1863 as a magazine serial, giving the author's name as Charles Felix. The book caught my eye in the library because of the line under the title claiming it to be 'The First Detective Novel'. The story is told by an insurance investigator who is reporting...more

Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

The main point of interest in this classic is the fact that it was a first. The introduction is more interesting than the book in many ways, putting it in its context and explaining why it was significant. The introduction is short, don’t get me wrong, but the story...more

Hailed as the "first detective fiction" novel, this one is so incredibly unique. It predates Wilkie Collin's "The Moonstone" (1868) as it was written in a serialized format between November 29, 1862 and January 17, 1863. Written in an epistolary format between letters, journal entries, and depos...more

Good grief -- this book might possibly win the award for most convoluted murder mystery I've ever read, but it's definitely and seriously fun. It's definitely got a thin plot, but it rates high on my enjoyment-o-meter because of its diabolical craziness and downright crazy story elements.

First s...more

The Premise:

The Notting Hill Mystery is, according to the introduction, either the first true detective story or among the first true detective stories, though it departs a little from the type by featuring not a police or private detective, but an insurance investigator, and by presenting all th...more

I thought this was a wonderful book but that is probably because I am a fan of the older mysteries and enjoy seeing how authors approached the genre in its young days. In this case, not just an infant but practically it's birth day. You might appreciate this novel more if you forget about it bein...more

Anyone interested in the roots of the Detective Mystery genre, as I am, will want to read The Notting Hill Mystery (1862). There are reasons to call it, as many have, the first detective story. There is also controversy. Traditionally, Edgar Allan Poe is the granddaddy of the detective story: Mur...more

The Notting Hill Mystery (1863) by Charles Warren Adams has been put forward as the first published detective novel. Is it? Well, that's a discussion for another time. What it is is an early version of various mystery and crime themes and methods found at work in the next century when such novels...more

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