... and the grandfather of Australian crime fiction
"How strange it seems to Europeans, even to Americans, that the first crime novel to sell over half a million copes was written, set and published on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia," writes Stephen Knight in an introduction to a 1985 edition.
Knight discusses the novel in surprisingly modern terms: its analysis of nineteenth-century Melbourne society, its emphasis on confusion of identity, and its less than heroic heroes. The characters have a whiff of Dickens about them -- a fussy, complaining landlady, for example, or "a strikingly aristocratic individual" complete with "drooping straw-colored moustache." But the detective Gorby's investigative techniques seem far more realistic and closer to those of a modern police procedural than those of Sherlock Holmes, whose first appearance he precedes by a year.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Australian crime fiction