American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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Leaves from the Diary of a Law-Clerk by the Author of “Recollections of a Detective Police Officer,” &c. London: J.C. Brown & Co., 1857.
Brother and Sister
  third prize in the connubial lottery, and drew—a widow, one Mrs. Halliday, the handsomest, cleverest, and poorest of two sisters; her sole wealth, her brilliant eyes, her silver tongue, her Houri smile, and two fine children—boys. Alas! the brilliant eyes, the silver tongue, the Houri smile, seen by the light of common day, which in this instance, dawned upon the matrimonial horizon in something less than a fortnight after the “happy” one, proved to be mere shams—surface lacquer—elaborate deceit. A disastrous union it was soon found to be for Edward Reeves, his young, gently-nurtured wife, and their children, Jonathan and Mabel. The orange-blossoms of the bride, were cypress-wreaths to them,—funereal emblems of departing peace and competence. The old story, in such cases, quickly developed itself. The senile bridegroom lapsed into a nonentity without a serious struggle; and little Jonathan, happening one day to thrash Master Halliday, a boy about his own age (seven years), for . . .


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The leaf which I am about to transcribe will be found to be only, in a slight degree, the record of my own personal observation; but I do not the less feel confident in its general accuracy, inasmuch, as my informants could have had no motive for mystifying or misleading me—a postulate of great importance in estimating the credibility of the most trustworthy persons. There are one or two blanks in the narrative, which I might indeed inferentially fill up, but this I have no doubt the reader will do quite as well for him or herself.

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Reeves were, I believe, both natives of Clifton, Bristol. Certainly the husband was the son and sole offspring of a wealthy, but somewhat feeble-minded gentleman, who had long resided there. Edward Reeves was the issue of a second marriage, and his father was again a widower at the age of sixty-three: in less than two years afterwards—having been, I suppose, wonderfully happy in his choice of previous partners—the old gentleman ventured—rash gamester!—for a





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