Hey all~ So since (most of) our main characters are nicknamed after real mystery authors, I thought it’d be fun to have a spotlight on each author here for those interested in learning more about them or who wanted to read some of their books. Of the eight authors named at our current week of reading, I personally had only heard of three of them, so this is kind of a fun investigation for me as well, haha. (Please note: because I have not read the vast majority of these, my descriptions may be a bit thin.)
First up is Baroness Orczy. Why her first? Because she’s only got a few mystery stories (afaik) and is therefore easier to research, haha.
Name: Emmuska (Emma) Orczy
Born: Sep. 23, 1865 in Hungary
Died: Nov. 12, 1947 (age 82) in London, England
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (not detective fiction)
Baronss Orczy (pronounced “Or-tsey” according to Wikipedia) was a Hungarian-born author who wrote in English and lived in Britain. She has quite a few novels, short story collections, and translations to her name, but she is overwhelmingly known for “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, an action-adventure story set during the French Revolution.
For our purposes here, I’ve been looking into what mystery the Baroness wrote. It’s surprisingly difficult, as I haven’t found really good documentation of what most of her books are about, and the vast majority that are not The Scarlet Pimpernel series seem to be out of print, unsurprisingly. I think a decent chunk of it should be in public domain at this point, at least.
As I haven’t gone through her novels to check and see what’s what, I’ll instead focus here on her short story collections: the The Old Man in the Corner series, the Lady Molly of Scotland Yard stories, and the Skin o’ My Tooth stories.
The Old Man in the Corner
This series is made up of three books of short stories, all featuring the eponymous Old Man. He’s the very definition of an armchair detective, solving crime while not leaving his seat at a teahouse. A young journalist visits him and tells him about the cases, which he’s able to solve from the details she gives.
Lady Molly of Scotland Yard
This is a collection of 12 short stories all featuring Lady Molly, a female police detective; they are narrated by her Watson-like assistant, Mary. Lady Molly is generally called in when her male colleagues hit an impassable roadblock, and she uses her wits and female intuition to (generally) goad a suspect into revealing more information than they’d like. I’ve read a few of these; they’re very quick, rather wholesome stories (insofar as Lady Molly is held up as a paragon of detective work; she’s very positive and eager to solve crime).
Skin o’ My Tooth
The title is a nickname for our protagonist in these stories, “an ugly, portly, but particularly sharp Irish lawyer who goes to great lengths (even unscrupulous ones) to get his clients off”. He apparently goes off to solve his clients’ cases himself. This Project Gutenberg Australia link gives 12 stories in this collection.
Know any more mystery stories by Baroness Orczy? Notice something here that’s wrong/have more information to add? Let me know! If anyone else wants to write up a mini-biography for our authors, feel free! I’ll probably add one here every so often as I go along with my own research; my goal is to read one mystery novel from each author as we read 十画館の殺人, so there should be plenty to share!