A visit to The Mysterious Bookshop at 58 Warren Street in Tribeca, New York City, is a gift that keeps on giving.
When we were there for Baker Street Irregulars & Friends Weekend in January, Ann saw and later bought a box of Mysterious Classics Cards created for the store. The 62 cards highlight books published between 1828 and 1950. They are cards to look at, not play games with. One of the cards describes the theme of the deck this way:
“A collection of illustrations of the most colorful, important, or interesting original dust jackets or covers of classic mystery, crime, suspense, and espionage fiction. Each full-color card also contains a description placing it in historical context.”
Most of the significant mystery writers in that 122-year period are represented in the cards, making for a fascinating variety of subgenres.
Because the cards are in chronological order, The Hound of the Baskervilles comes in at No. 6. The first five, books published before the Hound, are:
1. Mémoires de Vidocq.
2. Revelations of a Lady Detective.
3. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens.
4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
5. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, by Fergus Hume.
Edgar Allen Poe, who invented the detective story, and Emile Gaboriau, whose hero Holmes called “a miserable bungler,” don’t get cards. Presumably that is for artistic reasons.
I’ve greatly enjoyed looking at the cards, which you can purchase here. For me they are a reminder that Sherlock Holmes is part of a detective story tradition that includes both predecessors and successors. I have read many of their adventures with great enjoyment over the years.
But only one name comes to my mind when someone refers to “The Great Detective.”