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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

by Fergus Hume

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I've wanted to read this for a long time. A thrilling Victorian crime mystery with all sorts of sensationalism. There are murder and mayhem, mistresses and illegitimate children, poison and blackmail. It's a well-written and easy to read novel from this era. The suspense during the trial and at the unravelling of the mystery are delicious. There is a death scene of a drunken hag which is outrageously overdramatic. In fact, there are a few melodramatic scenes which made me giggle with delight. Written in Australia, this was a huge bestseller there, and I can just envisage how the lurid plot stoked the imaginations of the public at that time. ( )
  ElizaJane | Feb 7, 2017 |
3.5 stars for the LibriVox audiobook narrated by Sibella Denton but only 3★ for the book itself.

A fun mystery - parts were a little predictable but that didn't interfere with my enjoyment. Hume managed to keep me wondering about who the culprit was right to the end. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 15, 2016 |
Apparently this book caused quite a sensation at the time it was published, but I found it rather tepid. It lacks the charm and wit of Conan Doyle, the suspense of Wilkie Collins or even the trashiness of a good penny dreadful. It's just another predictable cozy mystery - a Victorian version of an episode of Midsomer murders (albeit one set in Melbourne) ( )
  Obosman | Aug 6, 2015 |
This was a terrific best seller in its day, but frankly I found it a bit disappointing as a mystery. It is still interesting for the 19th century Australian urban setting according to a note in this edition, Fergus Hume was a new Zealander, but from his own account he write this story while living in Melbourne --having failed as a dramatist, he decided to win notice by writing a novel, and being told Gaboriau's mysteries sold well, he read 11 of them and then write his own story of a murder in a hansom cab. His preface also ells both his original and his final choice as the murderer, so there is no suspense in reading this edition. He indicates that he considerably "toned down" the more colorfully evil characters, which I think unfortunate. ( )
  antiquary | Jun 12, 2015 |
When a hansom cab driver picks up a drunk man and his friend, it seems like an ordinary fare. Until the friend gets out and gives the cabman directions to the drunk man's address. After arriving at his destination, the cabman discovers that the drunk man has been murdered. The crime leaves all of Melbourne in an uproar but the resolution of the mystery may be even more scandalous than the crime itself.

I'm not quite sure how this book ended up on The List. It's an average mystery for its time period (first published in 1887) with the unique element of being set in Australia, rather than the London I had anticipated from the title. While the mystery is not terribly executed, the suspense is bungled a bit, and the lack of a central character with whom the reader can solve the mystery makes the book slightly less effective. Worth reading if you're interested in the development of the mystery novel during its nascent period. ( )
  MickyFine | Sep 16, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fergus Humeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caterson, SimonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
From the book cover:

In the dead of night, on a dark, lonely street in Melbourne, a cabby discovers to his horror that his drunken passenger has been murdered--poisoned with a chloroform-saturated handkerchief. The perpetrator, his motive, even the identity of the victim are all unknown. The last man to be seen in the victim's company cannot be identified and has vanished into the streets of Australia's metropolis. A pretty puzzle for police detective Samuel Gorby.

But Gorby is not destined to solve this bizarre crime. The man who finally does must thread a labyrinth of dark secrets, missing papers, evasive witnesses, a clandestine marriage--and a deadly game of blackmail.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486219569, Paperback)

A splash of chloroform . . .

The drunken man was staggering -- but he was quite alive, when the thoughtful gentleman stumbled upon him in the thick Melbourne night, and hailed a cab to take him home.

By the time the cabdriver was in the proper neighborhood and was turning around to ask directions, the cabbie discovered he was driving around an unconscious man . . . slumped forward with a chemical-soaked handkerchief tied around his mouth! Unconscious -- or dead!

New Zealand lawyer and writer Fergus Hume achieved immediate, widespread attention for his first novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, when it first appeared in 1886. This remarkable novel, when published in England, became more the talk of London than even Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, issued soon thereafter. Hume's other detective novels included The Opal Serpent and The Silent House.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Summary: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, first published in 1886, is Australia's original international best-selling crime novel. Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this vivid and brilliantly plotted murder thriller tells the story of a crime committed by an unknown assassin. With its panoramic depiction of a bustling yet uneasy city, Hansom Cab has a central place in Australian literature.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1920885374, 1921922222, 1922079537

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