Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories” as Want to Read:
The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Gathering the finest adventures among private and police detectives from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-including a wide range of overlooked gems-Michael Sims showcases the writers who ever since have inspired the field of detective fiction.

From luminaries Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Bret Harte, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle to the forgotten author
Paperback, 608 pages
Published December 20th 2011 by Walker & Company (first published October 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dead Witness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dead Witness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 535)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This fascinating new anthology, by an academe who has made a career out of putting together such anthologies, is a lively and unexpected guide to the early history of the detective story, whose invention is largely credited to Edgar Allen Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and which really flowered into
The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories by Michael Sims (ed) jumped right off the library "New Arrivals" shelf and into my hands. Like I needed another book to read right now. Like I don't have two-thirds of a Mount TBR pile of my own books to read for challenges this year. Like I could really resist this combination: Victorian (Vintage!)--Mysteries! The collection gathers some of the best stories about private investigators and police detectives from the mid- ...more
Alison Dellit
I have one rule with my Goodreads tags - everything gets either fiction or non-fiction, so I can track the relative balance in what I read. This is the first book to give me serious trouble with that designation. That's because while this works as a collection of detective fiction, it works even better as an overview of the emergence of the genre, and it is as the latter that I would strongly recommend it.
The introductions to each story, like the introduction to the book, are excellent (marred o
Kate  K. F.
As an avid reader of mysteries and literature, this collection was an amazing find. Sims has collected well known and little known mystery stories from the 1890s and put them all together in one place as well as writing a thoughtful introduction. Every story was a good read, some were scary and a few were even funny. I would recommend this book to someone who's read all of Doyle and Poe and is wondering what to read next. This provides a history lesson as well as chance to meet new authors.
Subtitled “A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Detective Stories" is exactly what it says on the tin. Crime, detectives, mystery in the 19th century - and a wide variety of short stories to portray the genre and the time accurately.

There are the obvious authors (Conan Doyle), the known authors who you didn’t know wrote detective stories (Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Mark Twain) and some unknown authors. There are male and female detectives, hobby-detectives, detective teams, and the only consu
Benjamin Thomas
Literary historians often argue about what was the first detective fiction story ever written but most agree it was either Edgar Allen Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue or Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, both of which I have read recently. It doesn't matter, in my opinion which one gets the credit, but reading both of them has led me to further explore the early days of detective fiction, my previous exposure largely limited to all things Sherlock.

And so it was that my eye was drawn to this boo
Mary Rose
Well, after hemming and hawwing over it for a while, I decided to give up on this book. I've been picking it up and putting it down since we used it for one of my classes but I really just can't bring myself to finish it. The reason being that while there are a bunch of great stories, there are way too many stories total and many of them are complete garbage. So, a "connoisseur's collection"? Probably not, more like just collecting every detective story ever written and putting them into the boo ...more
John  Bellamy
This is an excellent anthology of Victorian/Edwardian detective tales and Sims' informed introductions and sensible editing add much to the reader's enjoyment and instruction. I find it curious, however, that he did not include any stories by Baroness Orczy. Better known for her Scarlet Pimpernel novels, Orczy also wrote two series of detective stories, one concerning the detections of "The Old Man in the Corner" and the other dealing with "Lady Molly of Scotland Yard." All the more odd, too, as ...more
A selection of stories from Victorian Crime Fiction, some of popular authors (Poe, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Collins) and some of ones I never heard of but was surprised by like 'The Secret Cell' by William E Burton. Other favorites were 'The Assassin's Natal Autograph' by Mark Twain and 'The Stolen Cigar Case' by Bret Harte (A Sherlock Holmes parody of the time. Even had a nice piece of yellow journalism from the papers of the time of the Ripper Murders - The Whitechapel Mystery' by Anonymous. The ...more
Lisa Ramey
This is an interesting anthology for anyone who likes detective stories and literary history. There is a short profile of famous authors of detective stories through the early history of this type of writing, then a selected example/story from the writer. They are all tied together well with relationships explained between the various authors and links to more recent detective stories/authors. Enjoyed it and learned a lot!
Erin Stuhlsatz
This was super interesting! I love short story anthologies, and I love mystery stories!

Since this anthology consists of the first few detective stories ever written (gasp!), it's really interesting to see the genre develop, through police drama (snooze), the first women detective (scandalous), to Sherlock Holmes, to parodies of Sherlock Holmes (falling on the floor laughing).
I wish there was a way to give a book 3.5 stars.

Every once in a while there comes a book that's tailor-made for curling up on the couch with a cup of hot tea. This is it. The stories, among them some fabulous rare gems of the genre, are great.
I love Victorian detective stories so this book is a great way of finding some authors I did not know before. Also, each author is introduced briefly before the story starts giving an interesting backdrop of the writers.
Lydia Taylor
Excellent. Very enjoyable, particularly with the short introductions to each author explaining a little about them and why they have been included. It introduced me to some new mystery writers that I am now really enjoying.
Some of the stories were a bit hard to understand in the beginning of the book, there are some words from the early 1800s that we just don't use anymore, but I really enjoyed all of the stories, it was a good read...
Dec 22, 2011 Juliana marked it as to-read
NPR (December 22, 2011)
"'The Dead Witness': Classic Victorian Crime Fiction"
If you are curious to know how crime fiction was born, this is the book for you. And if your to-do detective stories list is getting short, check it out for inspiration.
A really cool insight into the history and development of the detective stories we know and watch today. Loved the history, but the language made it a slow read.
Really interesting stories. I read it on m,y Kindle and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could have flipped back and forth through the book.
Feb 23, 2012 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Shelves: thrillers, npr
As heard on the NPR Books podcast.
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ marked it as to-read
description: The greatest ever anthology of Victorian detective stories, The Dead Witness gathers the finest police and private detective adventure stories from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including a wide range of overlooked gems.

'The Dead Witness', the 1866 title story by Australian writer Mary Fortune, is the first known detective story by a woman, a suspenseful clue-strewn manhunt in the Outback. This forgotten treasure sets the tone for the whole anthology as surprises app
It's a little dry, but I guess that's to be expected from Victorian-era writers.
Loved this collection. It introduced me to some new (old) mystery writers.
Katharine Holden
Fun. Good reading on a cold winter's night.
Lots of good stuff in there!
Pranay Dharmale
Pranay Dharmale marked it as to-read
Feb 20, 2015
Katarina is currently reading it
Feb 18, 2015
Hannah marked it as to-read
Feb 17, 2015
Em marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2015
Jess is currently reading it
Feb 05, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: 'The Dead Witness' by Michael Sims 1 6 Feb 01, 2015 10:06AM  
  • The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities
  • Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury
  • American Gangbang: A Love Story
  • Fen Country  Twenty-Six Stories Featuring Gervase Fen (Gervase Fen, #11)
  • Under the Harrow
  • Chance in Hell
  • Dark Matter Tiding
  • Attic Clowns
  • A Moment on the Edge: 100 Years of Crime Stories by Women
  • Famous Drownings in Literary History: Essays on 21st-Century Jewishness
  • Burn Collector: Collected Stories from One Through Nine
  • I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
  • The Mammoth Book of Egyptian Whodunnits
  • Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America
  • Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations
  • Father Brown: The Essential Tales
  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy
  • Code for Failure
Michael Sims is the author of the acclaimed "The Story of Charlotte's Web, Apollo's Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination," "Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form," and editor of "Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories" and "The Dead Witness: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Detective Stories." He lives in western Pennsylva ...more
More about Michael Sims...
Dracula's Guest and Other Victorian Vampire Stories The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes

Share This Book