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The Big Bow Mystery

The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill
By: (1864-1926)

Regarded as the first full-length locked room mystery, the novel focuses on a murder that has occurred inside a locked room, with no clear indication as to the weapon used, the perpetrator of the horrendous crime, or a possible escape route. Needless to say, The Big Bow Mystery has all the elements necessary to engage its audience and encourage them to look between the lines in an attempt to unravel the complex murder.

Set in Bow, east London, the novel opens when Mrs. Drabdump, a widow who rents out rooms, panics when one of her lodgers does not respond to her fervent attempts to wake him. In a moment of distress, she seeks the help of her neighbor George Grodman, incidentally a former detective, who eventually forces his way inside the room. Consequently, they witness a gruesome sight, as they find Arthur Constant dead, his throat slashed. Astounded by the strange circumstances under which the murder has occurred, bearing in mind that the door and windows were locked and secured from the inside with no apparent way of leaving the crime scene, the case is truly baffling. Moreover, the motive for the murder is also a mystery, as Constant was a likeable man, known for his efforts to help the working class. The perplexing case is taken up by Grodman and Inspector Edward Wimp, who share a mutual detest, yet amusingly play along with an act of cordiality. Nevertheless, they go out of their way to unravel the mystery that has left everyone awestruck.

Zangwill efficiently combines an absorbing plot, a witty selection of characters, a list of Dickensian names, humor, and a puzzling murder waiting to be solved, to create a piece renowned for its sardonic style and satirical portrayal of Victorian London. Certain to keep one guessing to the very end, the novel offers many clues, however, only to meticulous observers.


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Reviews (Rated: 4 Stars - 2 reviews)

Reviewer: - September 24, 2014
Adriana reading and character voices is excellent I enjoyed the tale though still undecided about the ending I not a scholar of ancient oriental text but there was a mention of the world being held up by an elephant standing on the back of a tortoise I wondered if Terry Prachett had found inspiration for discworld from this novel
Reviewer: - April 17, 2013
Subject: I'd like to say I loved it...
Let me start by saying that the reading is excellent and really helped build atmosphere. Unfortunately, I found the style of writing a bit wandering and the ultimate solution a bit uninspiring. I'd like to say I loved it, but I didn't.


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