These nineteenth-century novels represent the beginning of the middle-class detective novel genre and the first full-length detective novels in the United States; Nickerson's Introduction will introduce these out-of-print works to mystery fans and academi
Introduction / Catherine Ross Nickerson 1 The Dead Letter: An American Romance 11 The Figure Eight; or, The Mystery of Meredith Place 209
Metta Fuller Victor (1831-1885) was a publisher, editor, author, and moral reformer. She is perhaps best known for her abolitionist dime novel Maum Guinea and Her Plantation "Children" (1861). Matching different pseudonyms to different genres, she published popular works for children and adults-including mysteries, Westerns, romances, temperance novels, and rags-to-riches tales. She wrote numerous pieces against slavery, alcohol, and Mormon polygamy. Catherine Ross Nickerson is Associate Professor of English at Emory University. She is the author of The Web of Iniquity: Early Detective Fiction by American Women, also published by Duke University Press.
"[F]un to read... page-turning action... [Nickerson's introduction] makes a resounding case for the importance of [Victor] in the development of the mystery."--Booklist "[D]elightful, illuminating, and thoroughly readable... Hats off to Catherine Ross Nickerson ... for shining a light on these long-neglected women."--Adam Woog, Seattle Times "The publication of [Victor's books] is a useful jolt, prompting us to recognize that me may have been disinclined to look for evidence that would disturb the neat contrasts of our potted history of the detective genre... Victor can tell a good story... [Her] novels are a welcome surpise."--Lisa Berglund, The Drood Review "[E]ngrossing reads. The Dead Letter and The Figure Eight remain landmarks in American mystery fiction for the prolific Victor's proficient application of the detective formula to a full-length work and for her marriage of the romantic novel to the mystery."--Elizabeth Foxwell, Mystery Scene "For readers who think that Lifetime movies and the muddled genre books that combine romance and serial killers are a product of our tawdry age, Duke University Press has reprinted four 19th-century sensationalist classics that are titillating, vulgar, and moralistic by turns, full of violent action and passion, and as shallow and materialistic as reality television. Such fiction, however, provided an arena for women eager to become writers, and the novels collected in these two volumes--which each contain a fine introduction by scholar Catherine Ross Nickerson--display how vital that opportunity was."--Kris Lawson, Rain Taxi "Readers interested in the development of detective fiction and popular fiction will welcome these volumes, which make available hitherto hard-to-find short novels... Highly recommended."--B. Diemert, Choice "Catherine Ross Nickerson has given a delight to fans of the mystery novel by re-introducing the long-forgotten works of American author Metta Fuller Victor... Nickerson ... should be commended for bringing this exciting piece of the past to the attention of mystery fans everywhere."--Jeffrey Marks, Ohioana Quarterly "[The Dead Letter] is well enough written to show the author was good in her time, and the social and domestic details are instructive."--Jon L. Breen, The Weekly Standard