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The Old Man in the Corner

Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Book Overview: 

Created by Baroness Orczy, author of the famous Scarlet Pimpernel series, The Old Man in the Corner was one of the earliest armchair detectives, popping up with so many others in the wake of the huge popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories. The Old Man relies mostly upon sensationalistic “penny dreadful” newspaper accounts, with the occasional courtroom visit for extra laughs. He narrates all this information (while tying complicated knots in a piece of string) to a Lady Journalist who frequents the same tea-shop. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .allop, and came up—quite close to the boundary of Lord Arthur Skelmerton's grounds—upon a group of three men, two of whom seemed to be wrestling vigorously with one another, whilst the third was lying face downwards on the ground. As soon as the constables drew near, one of the wrestlers shouted more vigorously, and with a certain tone of authority:

"'Here, you fellows, hurry up, sharp; the brute is giving me the slip!'

"But the brute did not seem inclined to do anything of the sort; he certainly extricated himself with a violent jerk from his assailant's grasp, but made no attempt to run away. The constables had quickly dismounted, whilst he who had shouted for help originally added more quietly:

"'My name is Skelmerton. This is the boundary of my property. I was smoking a cigar at the pavilion over there with a friend when I heard loud voices, followed by a cry and a groan. I hurried down the steps, and saw this poor fellow . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I must confess that, until quite recently, the only thing I knew about Baroness Orczy that she gave the world The Scarlet Pimpernel.

But I learned that she gave the world much more than that. She gave the world The Old Man in the Corner, who might just have been the world’s first armchair detectiv...more

A collection of mystery short-stories written by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. I would say that she is not a master writter of this genre of book, I still prefer the Scarlet Pimpirnel series.

These are a collection of short stories. The first volume has it being narrated to a woman called Polly Burton.Each short story is told by an old man in the corner who likes to pit his intelligence against crime in the country, by visiting the location, the inquest and so on. He carries around ph...more

This was an interesting reading experience. It is compared to Sherlock Holmes which is why I chose to read it, but I was disappointed. The book is a collection of mysteries that all follow the same pattern. Young reporter Polly Burton meets an elderly man at the teashop where she routinely goes f...more

Baroness Orczy is mostly associated with her famous Scarlett Pimpernel and though that’s a seriously entertaining moniker, it isn’t quite my speed. But then again the lady was versatile (and quite popular back in her day, albeit more so commercially than critically) and times being what they were...more

Not a word against baronesses … A certain Danish baroness began her tale with the words: “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills …”

Some baronesses just have better writing skills than others.

Even this collection, one of many, of short stories about The Old Man in the Corner and...more

The Old Man in the Corner contains twelve of the stories by Baroness Orczy featuring the mysterious man who sits in the corner of the ABC tea shop fiddling with a piece of string whilst working our the solutions to crimes that have baffled the police. Each case is unfolded during the course of a...more

This came up in The Golden Age of Murder which I am currently reading and although I had read most of the Scarlet Pimpernel books by Orczy I had not tried her mysteries. I also recognized the title character from the Tommy and Tuppence books by Christie, so I thought I would give this a shot. The...more

3 1/2 stars, somewhat good, somewhat dull and somewhat slow.

Young journalist Polly Burton gets into the habit of having her lunch at the ABC cafe after her first encounter with a disreputable old man who, all the while obsessively making knots in a grimy piece of string he carries, bends her ear, Ancient Mariner-style, with his tales. In his instance the...more

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