If you are a reader who loves suspense, mystery, action, and heroism in your novels, look no further to get your fix! Victorian readers were the first to be introduced to the Sensation novel and the Detective novels that have influenced pop culture for the last 150+ years. Everyone has heard of the eccentric detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his exploits with the famed Dr. Watson, but the Sherlock Holmes stories only scratch the surface of the early detective fiction. Below we have put together a short list of public domain novels, novellas, and short stories for the eager fans of detective fiction to get their hands on.
First, we will begin with a couple of the Sherlock Holmes stories that are considered must-reads:
1) A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes)
2) The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
We jump across the pond from Victorian England to an American writer for our next suggestion:
3) Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe – This story is often considered the first Detective fiction narrative to arrive on the scene. This short, gruesome story will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Next we will suggest a couple more precursors to the ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories:
4) Bleak House by Charles Dickens featuring the indefatigable Inspector Bucket.
5) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins – An ill-gotten Indian diamond leaves turmoil, bad luck, and general misery in its wake. The diamond is stolen from a young woman, and it takes an extensive group effort to reveal the culprits.
6) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. – This is not technically a detective story, but it was the exciting introduction of the Sensation novel that involves amateur detective work by a group of friends to uncover a sinister plot set in place by a couple of devious villains.
7) Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Another sensation novel revolving around Lady Audley who we come to find has a mysterious and complicated past that has come back to confront her. It is up to the amateur detective, Robert Audley, to uncover the truth.
These novels and stories should keep even the most voracious detective hound sated for a while. If anyone has any favorite Victorian era detective or sensation novels that they would like added to this list, let us know!