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.

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