According to some, Ebenezer Gryce was the first American detective in mystery stories. According to Amazon, this book was published before the Sherlock Holmes stories, and “changed the mystery genre forever.”
Horatio Leavenworth is murdered in his home. The prime suspects are his nieces, only one of whom stands to gain from his death. But the clues all seem to be pointing to the niece who doesn’t have any skin in the game, so to speak. Mr. Raymond is a junior partner in the law firm that had been representing Mr. Leavenworth for years, and he is called in to keep an eye on the nieces during the inquest. The young lawyer is our narrator, and is also quite taken with one of the nieces.
Ebenezer Gryce is a New York City detective, who appears in 12 other books by Green. Gryce is the prototypical modern detective, figuring out how a body can be found in a locked room, whether a person would recognize someone’s footsteps, ballistics, and all that good detectivey stuff.
There are some good old fashioned twists in the story, although at the time they were entirely new, which is one of the things that make this such a fun read. It’s interesting to see from whence many of our modern detectives have sprung.