The Agony Column
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The Agony Column

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  121 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Agony Column is a classic mystery novel by the creator of Charlie Chan.
Paperback, 108 pages
Published October 20th 2000 by Wildside Press (first published 1916)
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A few months ago, inspired by a book blogger’s challenge for reading the century, I begun on a project of my own aiming to read a mystery/crime novel published in each of the years of the twentieth century. I decided that I was to read the novels in chronological order and that I would not read the same author twice for the purposes of the project. I soon settled into a pattern of one ‘century of crime’ book a month and already I love the element of ‘pot luck’ that comes with choosing a book bas...more
It took me quite a while to start this book. It appeared to be an old fashioned, slow, artsy type of book which always is difficult for my hyperactive brain to grasp. But whoa!!!!! When I started, it was a gem of a book that I recommend everyone to read. In this age of Facebook, Twitter, the Personals online, the classified section of the local paper is a romantic way to meet your one true love. Geoffrey West has a routine. He picks the paper and walks to a nearby hotel to enjoy his breakfast wh...more
In England "The Agony Column" was the name of the personal advertisements in newspapers. The story begins in a rather light-hearted way with an American visiting London and being quite taken by an American girl he sees breakfasting with her father at a London Hotel. Since arriving in London he has been fascinated by The Agony Column. He has seen numerous ads placed by persons who saw someone that interested them in passing and requested a meeting. Wondering what he has to loss, he places an ad t...more
The Daily Mail is gross and pervily misogynistic, from what I understand, and it was just as wretchedly scandalous in the hot summer weeks leading up to World War I in Earl Derr Biggers' The Agony Column, but instead of nip slips, the Daily Mail had a Missed Connections (or "agony column" in British): "I saw you, in white with a scarlet ribbon, alight from the omnibus at Piccadilly and glance playfully at me. Write if your heart went out to this gentleman in a pince-nez," and you could pay five...more
Sep 01, 2012 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Wanda, Bettie
According to Wikipedia, this book was also published as Second Floor Mystery in 1916.

Free download at Gutenberg Project
Maybe I'll try to read The Agony Column again when I have more time. I admit to going through it very quickly. It starts off so well and is intriguing at first, but after a while the narrator is a bit too much.

Of course, it might have been my mood. The thought of there being "agony columns" (a personals section where one person tries to track down someone they saw briefly in public, but can't forget) in the Times long before Craig's List and Missed Connections came along pulled me into this.

Samantha Glasser
Geoffrey West is an American in London. Dining one morning on a plate of fresh strawberries, and taking in the personal ads in the newspaper (aptly nicknamed "The Agony Column"), he spots an American tourist girl with her father, a Congressman from Texas. He notes that she too is reading the Agony Column. Later that day he has an idea to place an ad to catch her attention, and vows to send her a letter each day for a week to win her heart. Each letter becomes more interesting than the previous b...more
This is a cross between a love story and a mystery. A young American playwriter, Geoffrey West, is in London just before WWII breaks out. He is eating breakfast in his usual hotel, when the girl of his dreams, Marian, comes in with her father (they are American also)and sits at the next table. He notices she is reading the personals (The Agony Column) in the newspaper, so he submits a message to her asking to meet her. She responds that he has to write her a letter every day for seven days and t...more
I received this book today in the mail, and sat down to see what it was all about. Wow! Aug 1914 London - which I expected since I received from a Maudie, but I kept thinking of Betsy in London in August 1914 and reading the Agony Column. My copy, soon to be on its way to Ann Wallace, was published in 1916. I wonder if Maud got her idea of using it in BATGW from it, or did she all ready know about the AC on her own?

Another mystery ;-}
Timothy Ferguson
A novel based on the contents of an agony column in an old English newspaper. Not fair as a modern detective story, but I liked it nonetheless, and brief enough that you can forgive it for breaking the rules, since your commitment to it is low. Has a romantic frame story which works well, I feel.

Originally reviewed on book coasters
Pamela Mclaren
What a fun and different type of story. This is like a play — a story told in letters that begin with an item in a London newspaper agony column — from a man who sort of meets a young woman while dining in a hotel restaurant. Is the story he weaves in the seven letters true, what will happen? This was so good, I only put it down once!
Agony Columns may be passe these days, but Early Derr Biggers spins a fantastic romantic suspense thriller that's old-fashioned, sweet and short. The less said about the devilishly clever ending, the better. Narrated in a series of seven letters between the prospective lovers, this is one thoroughly enjoyable read!
Cindy Barnett
Interesting novel from one of the early masters of the genre. Lots of surprises for mystery fans.
Available free in eBook or Audiobook:
Very engaging and hard to put down. Total surprise of an ending. At first I was angry, but then decided it was OK. (Although written by Biggers, Charlie Chan does not appear in this novel.)
Mystery-romance that takes place in London just before WWI. The story is very clever, and I was dumbfounded by the ending. 3 1/2 stars.
Marts  (Thinker)
Quite an interesting classic mystery novel, the title is its most prominent aspect, but the reader would be quite surprised at the plot...
Mike Mikos
Interesting murder mystery from the Pre WWI era. Well written and holds interest. Boy meets girl through a newspaper personal column.
This is actually a short story rather than a novel. What a clever, amusing story. A quite surprising ending.
Such a stylish novel, wonderfully written like a Wodehouse mystery. I really enjoyed this little old book.
Very entertaining. You will never guess the ending! Listen at for free.
Perfect old school mystery with fun twists and turns and a bit o' romance, too. Yay!
Tanya Faberson
A cute little mystery with a good twist at the end. Worth the quick read.
Mar 21, 2011 Divya added it
Recommends it for: People who love mysteries
Good novel.. Or may be I should cal it a short story.. Good ending
This was an enjoyable little book with a fun twist at the end.
This is a piquant romantic mystery.
Doug Diegert
It was fun. The writing style is dated.
a good read
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Earl Derr Biggers was born in Warren, Ohio on August 24, 1884. Years later, while attending Harvard University, Biggers showed little passion for the classics, preferring instead writers such as Rudyard Kipling and Richard Harding Davis. Following his graduation from Harvard in 1907, he worked briefly for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and at Bobbs-Merrill publishers. By 1908, Biggers was hired at the...more
More about Earl Derr Biggers...
The House Without a Key (Charlie Chan, #1) The Chinese Parrot (Charlie Chan, #2) Behind That Curtain (Charlie Chan, #3) The Black Camel (Charlie Chan, #4) Charlie Chan Carries On (Charlie Chan, #5)

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