As the novel became a dominant form in crime fiction around the turn of the century and as women increasingly became recognised as both authors and readers, two things occurred: death became the threat which the fiction would dissipate and writers found ways of involving readers in the operations of the story. Neither Gaboriau nor Green consistently laid out clues for the reader to follow in any organised way, nor did they assemble a wide range of possible suspects to entice and bemuse the reader’s speculations. There developed, though, an increasing desire to amaze the reader: the two best-known crime novels of the turn of the century both end with startlingly unpredictable revelations. In The Big Bow Mystery (1892) Israel Zangwill, a radical journalist and influential Zionist, ends a locked-room murder mystery with the startling and barely credible revelation that the detective committed the murder after breaking into the room. This may now seem parodic, but it was written for a popular newspaper where such melodrama could seem normal, and Priestman has seen a left-wing political thrust to the novel: ‘in being hoodwinked into looking the wrong way by the detective cult, the public are overlooking the only real source of social solutions’ (1998: 18).
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