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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab, The Best Selling Mystery Of The Nineteenth Century When A Man Is Found Dead In A Hansom Cab One Of Melbourne S Leading Citizens Is Accused Of The Murder He Pleads His Innocence, Yet Refuses To Give An Alibi It Falls To A Determined Lawyer And An Intrepid Detective To Find The Truth, Revealing Long Kept Secrets Along The Way Fergus Hume S First And Perhaps Most Famous Mystery The Mystery Of A Hansom Cab

  • Paperback
  • 260 pages
  • The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
  • Fergus Hume
  • English
  • 15 September 2017
  • 184637006X

About the Author: Fergus Hume

Fergusson Wright Hume 1859 1932 , New Zealand lawyer and prolific author particularly renowned for his debut novel, the international best seller The Mystery of a Hansom Cab 1886 Hume was born at Powick, Worcestershire, England, son of Glaswegian Dr James Collin Hume, a steward at the Worcestershire Pauper Lunatic Asylum and his wife Mary Ferguson While Fergus was a very young child, in 1863 the Humes emigrated to New Zealand where James founded the first private mental hospital and Dunedin College Young Fergus attended the Otago Boys High School then went on to study law at Otago University He followed up with articling in the attorney general s office, called to the New Zealand bar in 1885.In 1885 Hume moved to Melbourne While he worked as a solicitors clerk he was bent on becoming a dramatist but having only written a few short stories he was a virtual unknown So as to gain the attentions of the theatre directors he asked a local bookseller what style of book he sold most Emile Gaboriau s detective works were very popular and so Hume bought them all and studied them intently, thus turning his pen to writing his own style of crime novel and mystery.Hume spent much time in Little Bourke Street to gather material and his first effort was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab 1886 , a worthy contibution to the genre It is full of literary references and quotations finely crafted complex characters and their sometimes ambiguous seeming interrelationships with the other suspects, deepening the whodunit angle It is somewhat of an expos of the then extremes in Melbourne society, which caused some controversy for a time Hume had it published privately after it had been downright rudely rejected by a number of publishers Having completed the book, I tried to get it published, but everyone to whom I offered it refused even to look at the manuscript on the grounds that no Colonial could write anything worth reading He had sold the publishing rights for 50, but still retained the dramatic rights which he soon profited from by the long Australian and London theatre runs.Except for short trips to France, Switzerland and Italy, in 1888 Hume settled and stayed in Essex, England where he would remain for the rest of his life Although he was born and lived the latter part of this life in England, he thought of himself as a colonial and identified as a New Zealander, having spent all of his formative years from preschool through to adulthood there Hume died of cardiac failure at his home on 11 July 1932.



10 thoughts on “The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

  1. says:

    3.5 I wanted to read this novel as soon as I found out that Although Hume was born died in England and wrote his most famous work this one while living in Australia, his time in NZ obviously meant a lot to him and he identified as a Kiwi for the rest of his life I can relate to that I am still a Canadian citizen but I always feel 100% like a New Zealander Home is where your heart is This book supposedly inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his 3.5 I wanted to read this novel as soon as I found out that Although Hume was born died in England and wrote his most famous work this one while living in Australia, his time in NZ obviously meant a lot to him and he identified as a Kiwi for the rest of his life I can relate to that I am still a Canadian citizen but I always feel 100% like a New Zealander Home is where your heart is This book supposedly inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write his first Sherlock Holmes book And I really enjoyed the start Hume s style was initially fast paced and farfresh and lively than most Victorian authors I really engaged with the characters.But I have to go on my own reading experience and for me the pace fell off and I had to read the ending twice to figure out the killer s motivation.3.5 is a good rating from me it does mean I want to readby this author And I am tougher on the murder mystery genre as I read so many of them

  2. says:

    I would have known nothing about this novel and its author had it not been for listening to an interview with the author of this book The interview left me intrigued At the time I was about to spend a weekend in Melbourne, so downloading the work, which is well and truly in the public domain, seemed like a good idea The fact that it took me quite a few weeks to read, even though it s a relatively short work is an indication that I found it less than compelling However, there wasn t a time wh I would have known nothing about this novel and its author had it not been for listening to an interview with the author of this book The interview left me intrigued At the time I was about to spend a weekend in Melbourne, so downloading the work, which is well and truly in the public domain, seemed like a good idea The fact that it took me quite a few weeks to read, even though it s a relatively short work is an indication that I found it less than compelling However, there wasn t a time when I considered abandoning it The backstory of the author, the fact that the novel was a 19th century bestseller that out sold Conan Doyle s first work and its setting in a city I know all made me push through As the title suggests, this is a whodunnit There s a murder, a police officer or two, a falsely accused hero, a loyal heroine and some shady characters from the Melbourne underworld It has the requisite number of red herrings, some rather stilted dialogue and a resolution that can t really be worked out from clues in the narrative Crime fiction fans with an interest in the beginnings of the genre will beinterested in this work than others It s not really something for the casual reader

  3. says:

    The bottom line is that I really liked this book another ahhhhh read in my history of mystery project for 2017 It is yet another one, like The Leavenworth Case that comes right down to the wire in unmasking the killer, and yet another that belongs in the category of classic mystery fiction The story itself is a mix of crime, investigations, courtroom drama, melodrama, and elements of sensation fiction, complete with dark secrets from the past The novel begins with a report from the Argus o The bottom line is that I really liked this book another ahhhhh read in my history of mystery project for 2017 It is yet another one, like The Leavenworth Case that comes right down to the wire in unmasking the killer, and yet another that belongs in the category of classic mystery fiction The story itself is a mix of crime, investigations, courtroom drama, melodrama, and elements of sensation fiction, complete with dark secrets from the past The novel begins with a report from the Argus on Saturday, the 28th of July, 18 telling its readers of an extraordinary murder that occurred in a most unlikely place a hansom cab committed by an unknown assassin, within a short distance of the principal streets of this great city, surrounded by an impenetrable mystery Indeed, from the nature of the crime itself, the place where it was committed, and the fact that the assassin has escaped without leaving a trace behind him, it would seem as though the case itself had been taken bodily out of one of Gaboriau s novels, and that his famous detective Lecoq would only be able to unravel it While it can be thought of as a detective novel in the sense that there are two men who are working on the case of the man who was murdered in the hansom cab in Melbourne, it is muchTrue, there are detectives the police detective, who eventually follows the small amount of clues to make an arrest, as set against the detective hired by the accused man s attorney to prove him innocent At the same time, others are also doing their own bit of detection in this story, so to limit it by giving it the label of detective fiction isn t exactly right It also delivers some pretty strong commentary and criticism on society of the time, which is, I think, one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much The book is also notable for its view of contemporary Melbourne it takes the reader through the city streets, from the gentility of the city s gentlemen s clubs down into its darker dens of vice Add to that the elements of sensation fiction which I love and the characterizations putting aside the melodrama, it all made for a couple of days of reading pleasure It also really messes with reader expectations in a very big way recommended for those who are into this older stuff.http www.crimesegments.com 2017 12

  4. says:

    Malcolm Royston, a cabman, was driving in Collins Street East, Melbourne at 1am on the 27th July 18 when he was hailed by a gentleman who appeared to be supporting another man, presumably under the influence of too much liquor When he pulled over, he was told to take the gentleman home, as he was awfully tight He stated that he had found the man slumped by a lamp post and though he didn t know him, thought he d send him safely home But suddenly the good Samaritan appeared to recognise the Malcolm Royston, a cabman, was driving in Collins Street East, Melbourne at 1am on the 27th July 18 when he was hailed by a gentleman who appeared to be supporting another man, presumably under the influence of too much liquor When he pulled over, he was told to take the gentleman home, as he was awfully tight He stated that he had found the man slumped by a lamp post and though he didn t know him, thought he d send him safely home But suddenly the good Samaritan appeared to recognise the drunken man, and allowing him to slump to the ground, rushed off in disgust.Rousing him with difficulty Royston finally managed to make out that the man wanted to go to St Kilda after navigating him into his cab, which turned out to be a bit of a struggle, he was about to drive off when the original man returned He declared he would see the drunk home after all and entered the cab, seating himself next to the gentleman Royston then proceeded to head for St Kilda But a little later Royston found himself heading to the Police Station the following investigation had the police convinced they had found their murderer the ease of the arrest thrilled the investigative officer, Mr Gorby, immensely Mr Calton on the other hand wasn t so convinced his investigation was intense and thorough What would he find How would the lives of the participating players of this drama be affected What an entertaining mystery Written back in the 1880s it covers everything needed for a good mystery, with a number of characters, eccentric and otherwise It was a little tedious to read at times, but I suppose that might have to do with the time it was written For anyone who would like a glimpse into Australia s past, especially Melbourne s inhabitants of the 1800s this could interest you a lot

  5. says:

    I asked a Goodreads friend from Down Under what Australian and New Zealand books she d recommend to an ignorant Yank like me I d only read Australian Kerry Greenwood and Germaine Greer and Kiwi Ngaio Marsh up to that point Magda was kind enough to send me a long list of excellent authors, including Fergus Hume The English born Hume grew up in New Zealand before relocating to Melbourne Unable to get his plays even looked at much less staged he instead turned out his first mystery, The Mys I asked a Goodreads friend from Down Under what Australian and New Zealand books she d recommend to an ignorant Yank like me I d only read Australian Kerry Greenwood and Germaine Greer and Kiwi Ngaio Marsh up to that point Magda was kind enough to send me a long list of excellent authors, including Fergus Hume The English born Hume grew up in New Zealand before relocating to Melbourne Unable to get his plays even looked at much less staged he instead turned out his first mystery, The Mystery of the Hansom Cab, in 1886 It became an international sensation and inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes and pen A Study in Scarlet.The novel begins in colonial Australia with a cabbie picking up two gentlemen in evening dress, one of whom was falling down drunk The first gets out early, and, when the cabbie opens the door to let out the second at that gent s home, the cabbie discovers that the drunk fellow s been murdered How can the authorities track down the accompanying gentleman, who must surely be the murderer Mr Gorby, a Melbourne police detective, discovers the victim s identity and arrests a suspect about halfway through the novel But Mr Gorby s rival on the police force, Mr Kilsip, has very different ideas As with any good 19th century mystery,evidence will emerge that leads Mr Gorby to reopen the case, and the two rivals will vie along with the defense attorney Duncan Calton to be the one to bring the true murderer to justice Many modern readers decry 19th century mystery novels as dry and contrived, but The Mystery of the Hansom Cab proves as exciting as any by Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Dean Koontz, Tony Hillerman, Elizabeth Peters, Laurie R King, or P.D James I couldn t put it down until I got to the very last chapter The Mystery of the Hansom Cab provides readers with a taste of an Australian classic, indeed, one that predates the Australian federation by 15 years While the novel provides a fun read in its own right, it s also nice to see the mystery that inspired the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes

  6. says:

    3.5 stars for the LibriVox audiobook narrated by Sibella Denton.A fun mystery parts were a little predictable but that didn t interfere with my enjoyment Hume managed to keep me wondering about who the culprit was right to the end.

  7. says:

    Fergus Hume was born in England in 1832 His family emigrated to Australia, where he became a barrister and aspired to be a writer His early efforts were met with complete disinterest, and so, unwilling to admit defeat, he asked a local bookseller what type of book was most popular The answer was detective novels, and so Hume bought and studied all of the works of the popular crime writer Emile Gaboriau that the bookstore had to offer.The result was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab , the first of Fergus Hume was born in England in 1832 His family emigrated to Australia, where he became a barrister and aspired to be a writer His early efforts were met with complete disinterest, and so, unwilling to admit defeat, he asked a local bookseller what type of book was most popular The answer was detective novels, and so Hume bought and studied all of the works of the popular crime writer Emile Gaboriau that the bookstore had to offer.The result was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab , the first of some 130 books that the author would publish between 1886 and his death in 1932 That first book though was his only success And it was a huge success quite probably the best selling detective story of the eighteenth century.Other books of the period may have stood the test of time better, may speak for their timeseloquently other authors may have left a greater body of work but this book has much to hold the interest.The book opens with a newspaper account of a murder A drunken man had been put into a cab by another man, who instructed the driver to take him home And when the driver stopped to ask his fare for directions not long afterwards, his passenger was dead, suffocated with a chloroform soaked handkerchief bearing the initials OW There was nothing else that gave any clue to the dead man s identity, and nothing at all to indicate who the man who had put him into the cab the man who must surely be his murderer might be.Mr Gorby, the police detective at the head of the investigation, was very capable, and he was quick to establish that the dead man was Oliver Whyte, a newcomer to Melbourne society It was interesting that Whyte had been courting Madge Frettlby, who was the only child of Mark Frettlby, one of the richest men in the city Madge was in love with Brian Fitzgerald, an Irishman who had come to Melbourne to make his fortune her father knew that, and yet he was encouraging Whyte s suit Whyte and Fitzgerald were, understandably, on very bad terms Gorby learned that Fitzgerald has been heard to threaten Whyte at his lodgings he learned that Fitzgerald wore a light coat wide brimmed hat, just like the man who had put Whyte into the cab he learned that Fitzgerald had been out in the city that night He was convinced that he had his man.Fitzgerald pleaded innocence, but herefused to provide an alibi for the time of the murder He had one, but he would not use it because he knew that to do so would cause irreparable damage.It was fortunate that his lawyer, Mr Calton believed him, and prepared to investigate Another police detective, Mr Kilslip, was convinced that his old rival, Mr Gorby, had got things wrong and so the two men set out to uncover the truth.They came to understand why Fitzgerald wanted to keep a secret that he wished he had never been told, a terrible secret, with roots in England and Australia, involving some of the highest and some of the lowest of Melbourne society..The plot rattled along nicely, from crime, to investigation, to trial, to aftermath And as it did that it shifted from crime story to sensation story Hume did better with the former than the latter, and though I enjoyed most of the journey in the end I could see how things were going to play out and ready for the journey to be over.But I had found much to appreciate along the way I admired the professionalism of the police and lawyers, and I was pleased that they all proved to be capable I liked that there was some moral ambiguity in the way the story played out And I found it easy to believe in these people, to believe in their world, and to enjoy spending time there.A hint of misogyny was disappointing, but Madge did develop into a credible heroine albeit a woman of her time after a shaky start, and this was a story about plot muchthan characters The characters did their job but no .The very best thing though was the wealth of literary references that peppered the story, the many times when the characters mentioned something they d read about I spotted Gaboriau, De Quincy, Zola, Braddon, and I suspect that there were others that I didn t recognise Sometimes it felt a little contrived but it was lovely, and I loved the author s generosity of spirit.The authors I didn t see mentioned but whose influence I was sure I saw were Charles Dickens in the slums and Wilkie Collins in the melodrama.Fergus Hume is nowhere near their class, but he has left the world a rather nice period entertainment, pitched at a very interesting point in the evolution of crime fiction

  8. says:

    If asked to name the bestselling mystery novel of the 19th century, most people would probably suggest something by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possibly The Hound of the Baskervilles In fact the biggest selling 19th century mystery novel was Fergus Hume s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab Hume was born in England but brought up in New Zealand, and was living in Australia when he wrote the book The book is set in Melbourne He went on to write a further 131 crime novels.The book opens with a cabby disco If asked to name the bestselling mystery novel of the 19th century, most people would probably suggest something by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possibly The Hound of the Baskervilles In fact the biggest selling 19th century mystery novel was Fergus Hume s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab Hume was born in England but brought up in New Zealand, and was living in Australia when he wrote the book The book is set in Melbourne He went on to write a further 131 crime novels.The book opens with a cabby discovering a dead man, identity unknown, in his hansom cab Police investigations soon establish the victim s identity, and circumstantial evidence points towards a wealthy young squatter, Brian Fitzgerald It soon becomes clear that Fitzgerald is hiding something, and is prepared to face the hangman s noose rather than reveal the secret By modern standards I d describe it as a crime melodrama There are gentlemen declaring their intention to die rather than put a lady s honour at risk There are dreadful family secrets There are surprise witnesses There is a convoluted plot involving some unlikely coincidences The final resolution is suspiciously neat It s all very breathless On the other hand Hume does introduce enough twists to maintain the reader s interest, and the book is quite entertaining One interesting feature is that both the detectives involved in the case are police detectives rather than amateur sleuths, and both police officers are shown to be intelligent and efficient, and very professional The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was immensely influential at the time, and was a worldwide bestseller Conan Doyle is known to have read it It s essential reading if you have a taste for Victorian and Edwardian detective stories

  9. says:

    Bettie s Books Bettie s Books

  10. says:

    Just saying, if the author s foreword includes spoilers to the solution of the mystery, it really oughta be an afterword.Aside from that, about 2.5 stars The mystery was of average complexity, the characters and storytelling style pretty melodramatic I got an ironic chuckle out of the fact that The Leavenworth Case was mentioned and referred to as light reading, when I d rate The Mystery of a Hansom Cab rather lighter Probably the most fun aspect was the setting of Victorian era Australia, Just saying, if the author s foreword includes spoilers to the solution of the mystery, it really oughta be an afterword.Aside from that, about 2.5 stars The mystery was of average complexity, the characters and storytelling style pretty melodramatic I got an ironic chuckle out of the fact that The Leavenworth Case was mentioned and referred to as light reading, when I d rate The Mystery of a Hansom Cab rather lighter Probably the most fun aspect was the setting of Victorian era Australia, as I ve read almost nothing else set there and the descriptions of the time and place were all fresh to me

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