Friday, February 3, 2012
Miss Cayley's Adventures
One of the advantages to reading a compilation of mystery stories as in my Victorian Women in Crime edited by Michael Sims, is the discovery of a new author. Here I am into the seventh story and I hit upon Grant Allen (1848-1899) and "The Adventure of the Cantankerous Old Lady". It is the opening story in Allen's book Miss Cayley's Adventures.
The heroine is Georgina Lois Gayley. She is a recent graduate of Girton College at Cambridge, is down to her last twopence, and is looking for adventures. She finds one as a temporary traveling companion to The Cantankerous Old Lady. Although she doesn't do much detecting in this story, she does save the COL's jewels.
I like Lois. She is the New Woman: fearless, well-read, optimistic, and known for her talent for mischief. She is a delightful heroine.
My library doesn't have a copy, but there is a free ebook edition at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. How fun.
Allen's style of writing is a bit breezier than most of the authors of this time. He was a friend to Darwin and Doyle and also wrote popular novels, two of which appeared under female pen names (now there's a switch). He created a great character in Victorian crime, Colonel Clay, a notorious con artist who robs the same millionaire twelve times in An African Millionaire. It too is available in ebook form.