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Unpunished: A Mystery
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman's first and only detective novel begins with a murder to confound any mystery fan: a local attorney, Wade Vaughn, is found dead in his study with a bullet in his temple, a knife in his back, a gaping wound in his skull, a cord around his neck, and a poisoned whiskey glass by his side. As the plot unfolds, it reveals motives for murder as numerous as the means: Vaughn is an evil man who has abused and blackmailed clients, servants, and family members, driven his wife to suicide, and devised a sinister plan for forcing marriage upon his young stepdaughter. The task of untangling this multitudinous mystery falls to a husband-and-wife detective team. The good-natured and resourceful Jim Hunt is sometimes outshone by his clever and intrepid wife Bess, a former journalist, who goes undercover as a servant in the dead man's home. When Bess and Jim finally discover the solution - through secret diaries, hidden surveillance, and last-minute confession - it surprises even them. Unpunished is a mystery with a message; Gilman weaves her case for women's freedom and empowerment into a story rich in twists and turns, colorful characters, red herrings, and wry humor.
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