As this little book was written some four years ago, I feel able to review it without prejudice. A new book just hot from the brain is naturally apt to appear faulty to its begetter, but an old book has got into the proper perspective and may be praised by him without fear or favor. "The Big Bow Mystery" seems to me an excellent murder story, as murder stories go, for, while as sensational as the most of them, it contains more humor and character creation than the best. Indeed, the humor is too abundant.
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Novelist, short story writer, and playwright Israel Zangwill (1864-1926) was a political activist and known as "the Dickens of the ghetto" for his stories of life in London's immigrant Jewish community. His play The Melting Pot gave rise to the metaphor of America as a crucible for the melding of nationalities.From Publishers Weekly:
Whodunit fans who prefer their murders mysteriously committed behind locked doors will appreciate this reissue of the first impossible crime novel, penned by the unlikely Zangwill (1864-1926)-better known during his lifetime as an ardent British Zionist-in the late 1890s. Widowed landlady Mrs. Drabdump and retired Scotland Yarder Grodman batter down a secured and bolted bedroom door to find Arthur Constant, a hero of the working classes, dead from a cut throat. After suicide is quickly ruled out, the puzzle captures the city's imagination, with theory after theory (some poking fun at Poe's solution to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue") floated in the press, until Grodman himself returns to the lists to try to clear the man condemned to death for the crime. The plot device has been used many times since, but Zangwill deserves credit for inventing it and enlisting it in an entertaining and timeless plot. With a sardonic style and vivid, Dickensian characterizations of Victoria-era London, Zangwill still appeals to contemporary readers.
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