View all 4 comments. Dec 02, George K. Hume was born in England, but migrated to Australia — living in Melbourne. This was his first mystery, and became a huge bestseller. He went on to write about one-hundred additional mysteries, but most of them have been forgotten. This first novel is still read, and not just by Australians.
The Hansom cab, named after its inventor, an English architect named Joseph Hansom, was still fairly new. It was popular because of its small size, a size that could fit well within growing cities traffic. The story line in this book tells of two men who get into a cab, but only one gets out. The one left was later discovered by the driver to be dead. He had been murdered by means of chloroform. There were no other witnesses. This novel, even after so many years, still reads well.
Many of the tricks of the writing trade were used in its production so that it still seems fresh. It is well worth a read by the serious mystery fan. 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.
Fergus Hume was born in England in His family emigrated to Australia, where he became a barrister and aspired to be a writer. His early efforts were met with complete disinterest, and so, unwilling to admit defeat, he asked a local bookseller what type of book was most popular. The answer was detective novels, and so Hume bought and studied all of the works of the popular crime writer Emile Gaboriau that the bookstore had to offer.
That first book though was his only success. And it was a huge success; quite probably the best-selling detective story of the eighteenth century. Other books of the period may have stood the test of time better, may speak for their times more eloquently; other authors may have left a greater body of work; but this book has much to hold the interest. The book opens with a newspaper account of a murder.
A drunken man had been put into a cab by another man, who instructed the driver to take him home. And when the driver stopped to ask his fare for directions not long afterwards, his passenger was dead, suffocated with a chloroform soaked handkerchief bearing the initials OW. Mr Gorby, the police detective at the head of the investigation, was very capable, and he was quick to establish that the dead man was Oliver Whyte, a newcomer to Melbourne society.
It was interesting that Whyte had been courting Madge Frettlby, who was the only child of Mark Frettlby, one of the richest men in the city. Whyte and Fitzgerald were, understandably, on very bad terms. He was convinced that he had his man. Fitzgerald pleaded innocence, but herefused to provide an alibi for the time of the murder. He had one, but he would not use it because he knew that to do so would cause irreparable damage. It was fortunate that his lawyer, Mr Calton believed him, and prepared to investigate.
Another police detective, Mr Kilslip, was convinced that his old rival, Mr Gorby, had got things wrong; and so the two men set out to uncover the truth. They came to understand why Fitzgerald wanted to keep a secret that he wished he had never been told, a terrible secret, with roots in England and Australia, involving some of the highest and some of the lowest of Melbourne society ….. The plot rattled along nicely, from crime, to investigation, to trial, to aftermath. And as it did that it shifted from crime story to sensation story. Hume did better with the former than the latter, and though I enjoyed most of the journey in the end I could see how things were going to play out and ready for the journey to be over.
But I had found much to appreciate along the way: I admired the professionalism of the police and lawyers, and I was pleased that they all proved to be capable. I liked that there was some moral ambiguity in the way the story played out. And I found it easy to believe in these people, to believe in their world, and to enjoy spending time there. A hint of misogyny was disappointing, but Madge did develop into a credible heroine — albeit a woman of her time — after a shaky start, and this was a story about plot much more than characters. The characters did their job but no more.
Fergus Hume is nowhere near their class, but he has left the world a rather nice period entertainment, pitched at a very interesting point in the evolution of crime fiction. Sep 10, Dfordoom rated it liked it Shelves: If asked to name the bestselling mystery novel of the 19th century, most people would probably suggest something by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possibly The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Hume was born in England but brought up in New Zealand, and was living in Australia when he wrote the book. The book is set in Melbourne. He went on to write a further crime novels. The book opens with a cabby disco If asked to name the bestselling mystery novel of the 19th century, most people would probably suggest something by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possibly The Hound of the Baskervilles.
The book opens with a cabby discovering a dead man, identity unknown, in his hansom cab. There are dreadful family secrets. There are surprise witnesses. There is a convoluted plot involving some unlikely coincidences. The final resolution is suspiciously neat. One interesting feature is that both the detectives involved in the case are police detectives rather than amateur sleuths, and both police officers are shown to be intelligent and efficient, and very professional. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was immensely influential at the time, and was a worldwide bestseller.
Conan Doyle is known to have read it. Just saying, if the author's foreword includes spoilers to the solution of the mystery, it really oughta be an afterword. Aside from that, about 2. The mystery was of average complexity, the characters and storytelling style pretty melodramatic I got an ironic chuckle out of the fact that The Leavenworth Case was mentioned and referred to as "light" reading, when I'd rate The Mystery of a Hansom Cab rather lighter.
Probably the most fun aspect was the setting of Victorian-era Australia, Just saying, if the author's foreword includes spoilers to the solution of the mystery, it really oughta be an afterword. Probably the most fun aspect was the setting of Victorian-era Australia, as I've read almost nothing else set there and the descriptions of the time and place were all fresh to me.
As a mystery I must admit it is a bit slight and the identity of the killer is given away very early in the piece, but for this reader its main charm lies in its depiction of my own home town, Melbourne, Australia, where the novel was written and set. The novel takes us to the moneyed salons of The Melbourne Club, the elegance of The Block, the slums of Little Bourke Street, the sweet sea air of St Kilda and the sweltering heat of a Victorian rural station, all of which are evoked with the authenticity that can only be attained by an eye-witness.
After qualifying as a lawyer, he left New Zealand for the most dynamic city of the colonies at the time, Marvellous Melbourne. There, however, rather than settling for a career in the law, Hume was determined to make a name for himself as a writer. After failing to interest any of the theatres in his plays, Hume decided to write a novel, but not just any novel, a best-seller.
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab - Wikisource, the free online library
Enquiring of a bookseller what kind of novel was the most popular, he was told it was the detective mysteries of Emile Gaboriau. A dashing young man about town is found drunk in a city street. A man who appears to know him hails a hansom cab and offers to accompany the drunk to his home, but half way there the Good Samaritan seems to argue with his friend and gets out of the cab, sending the driver on.
When the driver tries to rouse his remaining passenger he finds him dead. Thus begins a mystery that incorporates all the elements one expects from a nineteenth century melodrama — a beautiful and innocent young heiress, a terrible secret, and an honourable young man who would rather face death than reveal it. It is much livened by some rather eccentric characters including an alcoholic slum matriarch, a pair of garrulous landladies, and two rival detectives each pursuing opposing lines of investigation.
Having written his novel, Hume approached several publishers and came up against an attitude that still lingers today, that nothing good could possibly come out of Australia. So Hume did what many authors are still forced to do. He scraped the money together to self-publish his book. Hume did not see another penny for sales of ,, or the stage adaptation which ran in London for nights. Hume followed his creation to London where he continued his career as a writer, but without ever again seeing the success of his first novel. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is an entertaining mystery in its own right, a remarkable example of the origins of the detective novel, and a delightful evocation of its time and place.
It is well worth reading. An unknown man is found dead in a hansom cab late one night. How did he die? Earlier, this man and another unknown man had hailed a hansom cab and had asked to be taken to St Kilda. The unknown man changed his mind and walked away. Then the man appeared to change his mind again, and got into the hansom cab. Part way through the journey he asks the cab driver to stop, gets out, and heads back to the city. A little further on, the cab driver, trying to establish exactly which address he is to attend, discovers the dead body of the man in the back of his cab.
The police first need to identify the victim. Once they do, they then move quite quickly to arrest and charge a man with his murder. But do they have the right man? Eventually, gentle reader, after a number of twists and turns, the truth will be ascertained. And what interesting twists and turns they prove to be. The novel is peopled with interesting characters, including the dreadful Mother Guttersnipe, and the busy Mrs Sampson.
Plenty of old-fashioned detecting here.
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
This novel was first published in , and has not been out of print since. Although some aspects are dated, this novel is still well worth reading today. Sep 25, K. It's full of great characters. The setting is wonderful me, biased? The mystery is engaging and kept me guessing, even on reread. There's a sentence fairly early on about how it's a really hot day and how it should be a December day but the "clerk of the weather" g Trigger warnings: There's a sentence fairly early on about how it's a really hot day and how it should be a December day but the "clerk of the weather" got confused and dumped it into August by accident and that is SUCH a Melbourne experience and I loved it.
Plus, this book basically changed crime fiction forever, and was a worldwide smash. I loved the story - it was full of twists and turns and misdirection, and it paints a brilliant picture of s Melbourne. I think at least part of my enjoyment was due to the fact that I knew all the places Hume mentions in detail, so I could get a mental picture of Brian hailing a hansom cab outside Scot's Church, of the cab making its way down St.
Kilda Road, of strolls through the Treasury Gardens, and trips through the seedy underbelly off Little Bourke. I think what I enjoyed most were his character portrayals, particularly for the supporting characters. Not so much the "He was tall and blond and had a moustache" kind of descriptions, but the parts that made them human - the squeaky singing voices and nasal laughs and crackling joints. It added humour and depth to a story that could otherwise have been a fairly standard whodunnit.
Este libro me ha sorprendido. Esta novela es un absorbente misterio que mezcla con ingenio la dosis perfecta de realismo y melodrama. May 21, Natalie Robinson rated it really liked it. This was the first book we read for our Melbourne book club books set in or about Melbourne , and it had all of the recognisable landmarks and streets that I was hoping for.
It doesn't seem too dated, the story was very gripping! It kept you guessing until the end. The characters were still relatable, with only minimal swooning from the ladies and chauvinism from the gents. And it described Melbourne beautifully! I really enjoyed this classic mystery. I liked the way Hume would lead the reader down one path and then throw in an unexpected twist. A real page turner that had me captivated till the last page. El misterio del carruaje de Fergus Hume. Una de esas editoriales brilla con luz propia: El ilustre joven, no obstante, proclama su inocencia, pero se niega a dar una coartada.
Cada uno era el favorito de todo el mundo, pero cada uno era odiado por su oponente. Kilsip era alto y delgado; Gorby era bajo y regordete. Oct 27, Alexandra Daw rated it liked it. I have wanted to read this for a long while - possibly since I studied Australian Literature at Sydney Uni all those years ago with Stephen Knight.
I really like Text Classics because, a bit like Penguin Classics, they always come with an Introduction which sets the work in the cont I have wanted to read this for a long while - possibly since I studied Australian Literature at Sydney Uni all those years ago with Stephen Knight.
- The Mystery of a Hansom Cab () - Rotten Tomatoes.
- Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition.
- Negligee Behavior.
- Des camions de tendresse (French Edition).
I really like Text Classics because, a bit like Penguin Classics, they always come with an Introduction which sets the work in the context of the time it was published. In this instance Simon Caterson advises us that this was the best-selling crime novel of the nineteenth century. And it was self-published.
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
Personally I found it a bit long and drawn-out and there was not one female character who inspired me. In fact I was rather aghast at the ferocity with which some female characters were derided. It was obviously a sport in Edwardian times to mock those of a lower class mostly women for their faults in speech, dress or habits. However most if not all female characters were on the whole vapid, a source of amusement or to be reviled which left me rather glum.
But at least I've read it now and can tick it off the list. Not available through my library sources, so was glad to find it read on Librivox. It did end on a better note than where it at times seemed headed and I did enjoy the references to Melbourne streets and places. This was better than the other two Fergus Hume mysteries that I read lately, but I am still not a huge fan. Something about his writing style maybe. The solution at the end was a bit surprising and not a total disappointment.
Originally published on My Books Are Me - www. A body is found murdered in a Hansom Cab, and police soon discover that it's a man named Oliver Whyte. But now the real question is, who on earth is the killer and why was he killed? Through some investigation, detective Mr. The book was first published in Australia, in Set in Melbourne , the story focuses on the investigation of a homicide involving a body discovered in a hansom cab , as well as an exploration into the social class divide in the city. The book was successful in Australia, selling , copies in the first two print runs. It was then published in Britain and the United States, and went on to sell over , copies worldwide, outselling the first of Arthur Conan Doyle 's Sherlock Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet Originally from Britain, Fergusson Wright Hume worked as a barrister's clerk in Melbourne , Australia, at the time of the book's first publication.
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab takes place in Melbourne, Australia, and involves an investigation into a homicide , after a corpse is discovered in the evening, in a hansom cab. Melbourne plays a significant role in the plot and, as the author describes: The class divide between Melbourne's wealthy and less fortunate is addressed throughout the plot. The protagonist in the novel is a policeman named Detective Gorby, who is given the task of solving the murder.
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was first published in Melbourne in , in Britain in ,  The author self-published the first edition of the novel. A Concise History of Australia notes that the book became an "international bestseller". Whether travelling by road, rail or river the unpretending little volume was ever present in some companion's or stranger's hands. Rzepka and Lee Horsley's A Companion to Crime Fiction called The Mystery of a Hansom Cab "The most spectacular reimagining of the sensation novel , and a crucial point in the genre's transformation into detective fiction".
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab "did more than any book to give the outside world a picture of Melbourne of the late s". Like a rich plum in our vintage mystery pudding we include the whole novel in this collection. A parody edition, titled The Mystery of a Wheelbarrow , is attributed to a W.
In , the book was again adapted into a film with a screenplay by Eliot Stannard. Bramble, James Dale, and Arthur Walcott. A remake of the version of the film was produced in , in Australia. Another film version was released in Michael Rodger adapted the story as a stage play in and a radio promotion in by Queensland Performing Arts Trust.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab London edition The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Criminal justice portal Literature portal Novels portal. A Companion to Australian Literature since