Israel Zangwill, The Big Bow Mystery. Dybbuk Press, 2007. Pp. 196. ISBN 9780976654636. £8.00 / $13.00.

Reviewed by Karina Kantas

Originally published in 1888, The Big Bow Mystery claims to be the first novel length locked door mystery. Based in Victorian times, Zangwill sets the setting for a bizarre whodunnit.

The writing is comical, but don't expect The Big Bow Mystery to be an easy read. The reader will find themselves glued to the words so as not to miss an important clue somewhere. And as always, the clues are right before your eyes.

The Big Bow Mystery was first published in installments for The Star newspaper, and had the public writing in with their conclusion to the mystery.

Once the wicked deed has been done, Zangwill goes on with a series of conversations and scenes between the main characters. Don't be fooled into thinking these conversations are unimportant: everyone is a suspect in a murder, which evidence proves could not have taken place. A suspect is arrested, a trial takes place and evidence points to the murderer. But it doesn't end there.

Readers who love Sherlock Homes and Agatha Christie mysteries will find The Big Bow Mystery just as engaging, and will concentrate on who done it, and more importantly, how it was done. As with all great mysteries, the evidence is there, the clues are simple enough, but don't expect the answer will jump off the page. Zangwill enjoys teasing the reader.

I thought for a while this story would turn out to be a mystery that would leave the reader hanging, allowing them to make up their own mind to what actually happened and who was guilty. Thankfully, Zangwill concludes the mystery with a motive, and murderer, that will leave a grin on the reader's face. A comical, engaging read.

At the end of the novel, Zangwill delights the reader with ‘Cheating the Gallows’, a short story about two men that lodge together and their love for one woman. Zangwill gives a surprising ending to this enjoyable short mystery tale.

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