Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Case of Jennie Brice

The Case of Jennie Brice by Mary Roberts RinehartThe Case of Jennie Brice is a crime novel that tells the story of a blood-stained rope and towel, and a missing tenant, Jenny Brice—all of which convince Mrs. Pittman that a murder has been committed in her boarding house. But without a body, the police say there is no case. Pittman tries to ferret out the killer by using the key to Jennie’s apartment to investigate.

In this classic mystery from the “American Agatha Christie” Mary Roberts Rinehart, a terrible crime unfolds amidst the worst possible circumstances-devastating flooding that has incapacitated the city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania.


I had been making tea when I heard Mr. Ladley go out. I fixed a tray with a cup of it and some crackers, and took it to their door. I had never liked Mrs. Ladley, but it was chilly in the house with the gas shut off and the lower floor full of ice-water. And it is hard enough to keep boarders in the flood district.

She did not answer to my knock, so I opened the door and went in. She was at the window, looking after him, and the brown valise, that figured in the case later, was opened on the floor. Over the foot of the bed was the black and white dress, with the red collar.

When I spoke to her, she turned around quickly. She was a tall woman, about twenty-eight, with very white teeth and yellow hair, which she parted a little to one side and drew down over her ears. She had a sullen face and large well-shaped hands, with her nails long and very pointed.

“The ‘she-devil’ has brought you some tea,” I said. “Where shall she put it?”

“‘She-devil’!” she repeated, raising her eyebrows. “It’s a very thoughtful she-devil. Who called you that?”

But, with the sight of the valise and the fear that they might be leaving, I thought it best not to quarrel. She had left the window, and going to her dressing-table, had picked up her nail-file.

“Never mind,” I said. “I hope you are not going away. These floods don’t last, and they’re a benefit. Plenty of the people around here rely on ’em every year to wash out their cellars.”

“No, I’m not going away,” she replied lazily. “I’m taking that dress to Miss Hope at the theater. She is going to wear it in Charlie’s Aunt next week. She hasn’t half enough of a wardrobe to play leads in stock. Look at this thumb-nail, broken to the quick!”

If I had only looked to see which thumb it was! But I was putting the tea-tray on the wash-stand, and moving Mr. Ladley’s papers to find room for it. Peter, the spaniel, begged for a lump of sugar, and I gave it to him.

“Where is Mr. Ladley?” I asked.

“Gone out to see the river.”

“I hope he’ll be careful. There’s a drowning or two every year in these floods.”

“Then I hope he won’t,” she said calmly. “Do you know what I was doing when you came in? I was looking after his boat, and hoping it had a hole in it.”

“You won’t feel that way to-morrow, Mrs. Ladley,” I protested, shocked. “You’re just nervous and put out. Most men have their ugly times.”

She was standing in front of the dresser, fixing her hair over her ears. She turned and looked at me over her shoulder.

“Probably Mr. Pitman was a man,” she said. “My husband is a fiend, a devil.”

Well, a good many women have said that to me at different times. So I said nothing, and put the cream into her tea.

I never saw her again…

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Lady Molly of Scotland Yard

Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Baroness OrczyHer fiance is falsely accused and the police are unable to find evidence to support his innocence.

So Lady Molly does the unheard of – she joins the police to improve their methods.

Lady Molly, like her fictional contemporaries, most often succeeded because she recognised domestic clues foreign to male experience. Her entry into the police is motivated by a desire to save her fiancé from a false accusation. Once her superior intuition has triumphed, Lady Molly marries and leaves the force.

This collection of short stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk was written by Baroness Orczy, who is best known as the creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

First published in 1910, Orczy’s female detective was the precursor of the lay sleuth who relies on brains rather than brawn. The book soon became very popular, as being one of the first novels to feature a female detective as the main character, Orczy’s outstandingly successful police officer preceded her real life female counterparts by a decade.

This eBook includes all 12 Lady Molly stories:



WELL, you know, some say she is the daughter of a duke, others that she was born in the gutter, and that the handle has been soldered on to her name in order to give her style and influence.

I could say a lot, of course, but “my lips are sealed,” as the poets say. All through her successful career at the Yard she honoured me with her friendship and confidence, but when she took me in partnership, as it were, she made me promise that I would never breathe a word of her private life, and this I swore on my Bible oath–”wish I may die,” and all the rest of it.

Yes, we always called her “my lady,” from the moment that she was put at the head of our section; and the chief called her “Lady Molly” in our presence. We of the Female Department are dreadfully snubbed by the men, though don’t tell me that women have not ten times as much intuition as the blundering and sterner sex; my firm belief is that we shouldn’t have half so many undetected crimes if some of the so-called mysteries were put to the test of feminine investigation.

Do you suppose for a moment, for instance, that the truth about that extraordinary case at Ninescore would ever have come to light if the men alone had had the handling of it? Would any man have taken so bold a risk as Lady Molly did when–But I am anticipating.

Let me go back to that memorable morning when she came into my room in a wild state of agitation.

“The chief says I may go down to Ninescore if I like, Mary,” she said in a voice all a-quiver with excitement.

“You!” I ejaculated. “What for?”

“What for–what for?” she repeated eagerly. “Mary, don’t you understand? It is the chance I have been waiting for–the chance of a lifetime? They are all desperate about the case up at the Yard; the public is furious, and columns of sarcastic letters appear in the daily press. None of our men know what to do; they are at their wits’ end, and so this morning I went to the chief–”

“Yes?” I queried eagerly, for she had suddenly ceased speaking..

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Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective

Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa PirkisIn the days of Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” there were also feminine characters who solved crime in their own fashion. Such were the cases of Loveday Brooke.

This collection of seven short stories are along the line of Doyle’s, where most of Holmes adventures were rarely in novel-length stories.

According to “Public Domain Super Heroes”:

Loveday Brooke was a private detective who operated in London. She had been an upper class lady until hard times left her penniless and without many friends. She found employment with Ebenezer Dyer, the chief of a well-known detective agency in Lynch Court, Fleet Street. Although her new profession of investigating crimes further distanced her from high society, Loveday was very prim and proper and usually wore a modest black dress. She was about 30 years of age and described as “non-descript” in physical features, being of very average height, weight and looks. She had a tendency to squint when she was deep in thought, and was considered something of a genius by Mr. Dyer and others who witnessed her reasoned approach to solving crimes.

Journey back with us to an earlier time, one where the criminals were dispatched by the wiles of a rare lady detective in Victorian England.


But although Loveday and her chief as a rule, worked together upon an easy and friendly footing, there were occasions on which they were wont, so to speak, to snarl at each other.

Such an occasion was at hand now.

Loveday showed no disposition to take out her note-book and receive her “sailing orders.”

“I want to know,” she said, “If what I saw in one newspaper is true–that one of the thieves before leaving, took the trouble to close the safe-door, and to write across it in chalk: ‘To be let, unfurnished’?”

“Perfectly true; but I do not see that stress need be laid on the fact. The scoundrels often do that sort of thing out of insolence or bravado. In that robbery at Reigate, the other day, they went to a lady’s Davenport, took a sheet of her note-paper, and wrote their thanks on it for her kindness in not having had the lock of her safe repaired. Now, if you will get out your note-book—”

“Don’t be in such a hurry,” said Loveday calmly: “I want to know if you have seen this?” She leaned across the writing-table at which they sat, one either side, and handed to him a newspaper cutting which she took from her letter-case.

Mr. Dyer was a tall, powerfully-built man with a large head, benevolent bald forehead and a genial smile. That smile, however, often proved a trap to the unwary, for he owned a temper so irritable that a child with a chance word might ruffle it.

The genial smile vanished as he took the newspaper cutting from Loveday’s hand…

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