In Agatha Webb, Anna Katharine Green, one of the greatest mystery writers of all time, weaves a narrative with her usual consummate skill, and portrays her characters with exceptional sympathy. On the New England seacoast, not far from Boston, lies a staid, picturesque village called Sutherlandtown. In these tranquil surroundings, Agatha Webb and her servant are found murdered. The task of unraveling the mystery begins at once, and suspicion points to a number of persons. Agatha herself had a tragic and troubled past. She suffered the loss of six of her children who died in infancy; some of the people of the village suspected her of complicity in these deaths, while others looked upon her as a victim. Adding to the complexity of the situation, a wealthy local man is being blackmailed by someone who believes that he is guilty of Agatha’s murder. The solution of the puzzle is uncovered in an intensely dramatic court scene. In addition to the attraction of the mystery, there is a great love story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Katharine Green (November 11, 1846 – April 11, 1935) was an American poet and novelist. She was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and distinguished herself by writing well plotted, legally accurate stories. Green has been called “the mother of the detective novel.”
Green is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and developing the series detective. Her main character was detective Ebenezer Gryce of the New York Metropolitan Police Force, but in three novels he is assisted by the nosy society spinster Amelia Butterworth, the prototype for Miss Marple, Miss Silver and other creations. She also invented the ‘girl detective:’ in the character of Violet Strange, a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth. Indeed, as journalist Kathy Hickman writes, Green “stamped the mystery genre with the distinctive features that would influence writers from Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle to contemporary authors of suspenseful “whodunits”. In addition to creating elderly spinster and young female sleuths, Green’s innovative plot devices included dead bodies in libraries, newspaper clippings as “clews”, the coroner’s inquest, and expert witnesses. Yale Law School once used her books to demonstrate how damaging it can be to rely on circumstantial evidence. Written in 1878, her first book, The Leavenworth Case: A Lawyer’s Story, sparked a debate in the Pennsylvania State Senate over whether the book could “really have been written by a woman.”
Green was in some ways a progressive woman for her time—succeeding in a genre dominated by male writers—but she did not approve of many of her feminist contemporaries, and she was opposed to women’s suffrage.