By: Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885)
Published in 1866, "The Dead Letter: An American Romance" written by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor under the pseudonym, Seeley Regester, is credited by historians of popular literature to be the first full-length American crime fiction novel. The writing is melodramatic in places and includes opinions typical of the time period, but is an enjoyable, early example of the genre. The novel begins with Richard Redfield, a clerk in the "Dead Letter Office," opening an unclaimed letter. Upon reading the contents, he is convinced that the message relates to the events of a night two years prior when another young man was brutally murdered.