The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

The Mystery of a Hansom CabThe Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A body turns up in St Kilda, murdered in a Hansom cab. Leaving aside the quaint social mores of the time, expressed by characters in the book, and in the style and form of the the book itself, this is a terrifically fun little novel. Most striking – especially to a writer – is the tight plotting. Hume, I guess, really thought through his plot before he put it on paper. To a native of Melbourne, the description of the city is delightful, in particular the slums of Little Bourke street. There’s plenty of interesting social history contained in it too. Sure there were bits when the novel strained a little, and parts where it dragged, but we should remember that it predates Sherlock Holmes, and almost certainly influenced Conan-Doyle, who had read it by the time he started A Study in Scarlet. Maybe a bit dated, but I liked it a lot.

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