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The Stillwater Tragedy

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Book Overview: 

Thomas Bailey Aldrich was an American poet, novelist and editor. Of his many books of poetry and fiction, he may be best known for his semi-autobiographical novel, The Story of a Bad Boy and his collection of short stories, Majorie Daw and Other People. The Stillwater Tragedy is set in a small New England manufacturing town whose tranquility is disturbed first by the murder of one of its prominent citizens followed soon thereafter by a general strike of all the trades-unions. As the story develops, Richard Shackford, the murdered man’s nephew, finds himself inextricably caught up in both these events.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Marble Workers' Association and Rowland Slocum. The system of this branch of the trades-union kept trained workmen comparatively scarce, and enabled them to command regular and even advanced prices at periods when other trades were depressed. The older hands looked upon a fresh apprentice in the yard with much the same favor as workingmen of the era of Jacquard looked upon the introduction of a new piece of machinery. Unless the apprentice had exceptional tact, he underwent a rough novitiate. In any case he served a term of social ostracism before he was admitted to full comradeship. Mr. Slocum could easily have found openings each year for a dozen learners, had the matter been under his control; but it was not. "I am the master of each man individually," he declared, "but collectively they are my master." So his business, instead of naturally spreading and becoming a benefit to the many, was kept carefully pruned down to the benefit of the few. He was often forced to d. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This was written in the 1800's by a renown poet who lived in New England. It is said this was the first murder mystery written. I found it to be very good. Very easy to read. In fact it could have been in modern times. Richard Shackford is suspected of killing his uncle. It is the story of Richar...more

WRITTEN IN 1880, HARD TO BELIEVE, IT DOES HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF OVERLY DISCRIPTIVE WORDS. THE FEAR THE COMMUNITY HAS AFTER A MURDER OF ONE OF THEIR RESIDENTS IS NO DIFFERENT THAN WHEN IT HAPPENS TODAY. THE REACTION TO CRIME HASN’T CHANGED ALL THAT MUCH. IT WAS AMAZING THIS WAS WRITTEN SO LONG AGO...more

This is a very interesting little book. It was written in 1880 in the style of the time, so the reading may seem a little stilted.

The story opens with a murder and ends with a solution. However, the pages in between tell an extraordinary story of the life and character of Richard Shackford, an ex...more

I would like to call this book a character study that happens to contain a murder mystery. The major characters are likable hard working New Englanders, the plot is reasonable and believable, and the murderer is identified through detective work totally without forensics. This is a refreshing cha...more