The Notting Hill Mystery: British Library Crime Classics
Charles Warren Adams
Poisoned Pen, Jul 15 2015, $12.95
In 1858 London, insurance investigator Ralph Henderson strongly believes Baron R murdered his wife Madame R last year; though proving the clever hypnosist killed her requires slow methodical collection of evidence to overcome the contention of a tragic accident. Her death from drinking acid in her husband’s lab while she supposedly was sleep-walking fueled Henderson’s suspicion of uxoricide. Henderson feels the motive is greed; as the Baron took out five-5,000 pound each life policies on his mate in different cities between late 1855 and early 1856. Thus the Baron had means, motive and opportunity.
This reprint (to include the original drawings) of one of the first detective stories is an intriguing mid Victorian as the hero struggles to prove his assertion that the husband killed his wife to collect life insurance. The storyline has the serialization problems of repetition, inconsistencies and boring filler to meet a weekly standard (still a problem in the internet age). Although an over the top of Big Ben villain, The Notting Hill Mystery is a period piece for curious historical mystery aficionados.