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This month we’re discussing The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green. As this mystery opens, Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy and prominent New York merchant, has just been shot to death. Both of his young nieces, one of whom is to inherit his fortune at his death, are suspect. Enter investigator Ebenezer Gryce, who would go on to feature in several more mysteries and establish one of the first detective series. Lauded for its exceptional plotting and legal accuracy, the book’s publication and popularity also marked the entry of a female author into the male-dominated mystery genre. Green’s proficiency with legal matters was such that The Leavenworth Case was famously put to use by Yale University’s law school to demonstrate the fallibility of circumstantial evidence.

WhoDunnits is a discussion group devoted to mysteries that follows a yearlong program of books and movies around a single topic. This year it’s Sherlock Holmes’s big brothers — who were the authors who created the detective genre before Conan Doyle came along?

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