The Big Bow Mystery

I love to read from all types of genres, but generally I stick to Science Fiction.  I tend to stick to well-established series such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who, but ever since I bought my Nook eReader I have been making an attempt to branch out further and read widely. Judging from the past  year and my Shelfari account, I think I’ve done a decent job of doing just that.

One of the genres I just don’t read much in is Mystery. Not that I dislike them; in fact, one of my favorite series of books as a teen was Isaac Asimov’s Black Widowers collections. But as I got older, I simply fell away from the genre and failed to cultivate any sort of love for them. At least, not consciously. But if I looked at various series that I was into, either book, television, or video games, and analyzed elements that I enjoyed the most, I found that the ones that contained a core mystery were the most intriguing. After all, I was a huge fan of Lost and that show was built on the idea of giving you at least a dozen mysteries an episode to rattle around in your head. As such, I was digging around the ‘Net one day and came across the Wikipedia entry for “Locked Room Mystery” and my interest was piqued.  And one of the examples (from 1895) provided in the article for this sub-genre of Mystery was The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill, which I promptly grabbed from the excellent and free eBook source Manybooks.net.

The Big Bow Mystery is a fairly short read, and I read it in only a couple of nights. A man is found murdered in a locked room with the windows locked tight, door bolted, and no conceivable way for a murderer to have entered and exited and leave the room as such. Zangwill plays with the mystery from a few angles, such as presenting court room scenes and the press hashing out possible solutions, some even ingenious in their own right despite being incorrect. Zangwill builds up a quirky cast of characters, playing off the de facto cast system of the day and various mores to present a few humorous situations. I enjoyed the brisk pace and air of mystery, and I wound up being wrong in who I guessed was the guilty party. The ultimate resolution is not a cheat; in fact, it makes you go back and revisit the situations revolving around the murder and be amazed at how well it fits. If I had one complaint about the book, it was how abrupt the (somewhat ironic) ending was, but at the very least the mystery is resolved and all the salient plot points are tied up nicely.

The Big Bow Mystery is a perfect example of the kind of golden storytelling you can find among the free eBook libraries. If you want a great little mystery to read, check this one out. Highly recommended.

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