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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  660 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, the best selling mystery of the nineteenth century. When a man is found dead in a hansom cab one of Melbourne’s leading citizens is accused of the murder. He pleads his innocence, yet refuses to give an alibi. It falls to a determined lawyer and an intrepid detective to find the truth, revealing long kept secrets along the way. Fergus Hume’s fi ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1886)
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Jul 26, 2015 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

I would have known nothing about this novel and its author had it not been for listening to an interview with the author of this book. The interview left me intrigued. At the time I was about to spend a weekend in Melbourne, so downloading the work, which is well and truly in the public domain, seemed like a good idea.

The fact that it took me quite a few weeks to read, even though it's a relatively short work is an indication that I found it less than compelling. However, there wasn't a time wh
Malcolm Royston, a cabman, was driving in Collins Street East, Melbourne at 1am on the 27th July 18-- when he was hailed by a gentleman who appeared to be supporting another man, presumably under the influence of too much liquor. When he pulled over, he was told to take the gentleman home, as he was “awfully tight”. He stated that he had found the man slumped by a lamp post and though he didn’t know him, thought he’d send him safely home. But suddenly the good Samaritan appeared to recognise the ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Apr 08, 2013 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: Magda Cawthorne
I asked a Goodreads friend from Down Under what Australian and New Zealand books she’d recommend to an ignorant Yank like me. I’d only read Australian Kerry Greenwood and Germaine Greer and Kiwi Ngaio Marsh up to that point. Magda was kind enough to send me a long list of excellent authors, including Fergus Hume. The English-born Hume grew up in New Zealand before relocating to Melbourne. Unable to get his plays even looked at — much less staged — he instead turned out his first mystery, The Mys ...more
Aug 14, 2014 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: passed-on
Fergus Hume was born in England in 1832. His family emigrated to Australia, where he became a barrister and aspired to be a writer. His early efforts were met with complete disinterest, and so, unwilling to admit defeat, he asked a local bookseller what type of book was most popular. The answer was detective novels, and so Hume bought and studied all of the works of the popular crime writer Emile Gaboriau that the bookstore had to offer.

The result was ‘The Mystery of a Hansom Cab’, the first of
Sep 10, 2011 Dfordoom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
If asked to name the bestselling mystery novel of the 19th century, most people would probably suggest something by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possibly The Hound of the Baskervilles. In fact the biggest selling 19th century mystery novel was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Hume was born in England but brought up in New Zealand, and was living in Australia when he wrote the book. The book is set in Melbourne. He went on to write a further 131 crime novels.

The book opens with a cabby disco
Feb 06, 2017 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE MYSTERY OF A HANSOM CAB. (1886). Fergus W. Hume. ***1/2.
Hume was born in England, but migrated to Australia – living in Melbourne. This was his first mystery, and became a huge bestseller. It was the best selling mystery of the nineteenth century, surpassing the sales of the books of Sherlock Holmes’ stories. He went on to write about one-hundred additional mysteries, but most of them have been forgotten. This first novel is still read, and not just by Australians. The Hansom cab, named afte
3.5 stars for the LibriVox audiobook narrated by Sibella Denton.

A fun mystery - parts were a little predictable but that didn't interfere with my enjoyment. Hume managed to keep me wondering about who the culprit was right to the end.
Pauline Montagna
Published in 1886 and an immediate best seller, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was one of the earliest detective stories written in English, predating Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet by a year, and is considered one of the best examples of the genre. As a mystery I must admit it is a bit slight and the identity of the killer is given away very early in the piece, but for this reader its main charm lies in its depiction of my own home town, Melbourne, Australia, where the novel was written a ...more
Natalie Robinson
May 21, 2015 Natalie Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book we read for our Melbourne book club (books set in or about Melbourne), and it had all of the recognisable landmarks and streets that I was hoping for.
It doesn't seem too dated, the story was very gripping! It kept you guessing until the end. The characters were still relatable, with only minimal swooning from the ladies and chauvinism from the gents. And it described Melbourne beautifully!
Gary Vassallo
I really enjoyed this classic mystery. I liked the way Hume would lead the reader down one path and then throw in an unexpected twist. A real page turner that had me captivated till the last page.
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

El misterio del carruaje de Fergus Hume. Recuperación del mistery victoriano

Fue el año pasado cuando Alba publicó la deliciosa recopilación de Cuentos de detectives victorianos , una antología que recogía una exquisita muestra de varios de los cuentos del siglo XIX relacionados con el relato más detectivesco, el clásico mistery. Desde ese tiempo, hay que reconocer que varias editoriales, pequeñas, independientes, además de Alba, están acometie
Victoria (My Books Are Me)
Originally published on My Books Are Me -

As someone who doesn't really read crime mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially since it was required university reading for my Australian Literature course.

A body is found murdered in a Hansom Cab, and police soon discover that it's a man named Oliver Whyte. But now the real question is, who on earth is the killer and why was he killed? Through some investigation, detective Mr. Gorby believes it to be Brian F
Jennifer (JC-S)
May 14, 2016 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The best-selling crime novel of the nineteenth century.’

‘Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this saying.’

Melbourne, 18--. An unknown man is found dead in a hansom cab late one night. How did he die? Earlier, this man and another unknown man had hailed a hansom cab and had asked to be taken to St Kilda. The unknown man changed his mind and wa
Oct 29, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book contains a great little story that moves along at a fast pace, despite being written back in the 1880s. I'm living in inner Melbourne, so this book is a little special to me - it is amazing how many of the locations still carry the same mood and feeling that Fergus Hume evokes in his book. Although Little Bourke Street is no longer seedy, it is easy to imagine the poverty and shady deals that would have taken place in the narrow laneways that still exist in this part of Melbourne today ...more
Aug 20, 2016 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two men got into a cab in the dead of night, one of whom asked to be dropped off first whilst the other was later found dead by the driver. As the story progresses, the detective who was assigned to this case, Mr. Gorby went around Melbourne looking for clues of the identities of the passengers, particularly that of the supposed murderer.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab transported me to 19th century Melbourne. Amidst the mystery of the murder in a hansom cab, it showed me glimpses of the lifestyles
Text Publishing
‘One of the hundred best crime novels of all time.’
Sunday Telegraph

‘Well written and immensely readable.’
Daily Telegraph

‘An absolute ripper. A plot full of astonishing twists and turns, and brilliant evocation of 19th-Century Melbourne that captures its charm, bustle and rawness.’
Inside Melbourne

‘A splendidly romantic melodrama, full of period charm, and Victorian sentiment…The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is not only a classic but hugely enjoyable as well.’
West Australian

‘Fiendishly cunning.’
Shane M
Aug 14, 2015 Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este libro me ha sorprendido. El primer clásico de misterio que se escribió y que ha llegado a mí por casualidad.

Ha sido un placer sumergirme entre sus páginas y descubrir junto a los detectives la verdad que se esconde entre sus letras. Un misterio aparentemente simple se convierte en una complicada historia que sorprenderá a los seguidores más fieles de Conan Doyle...

El misterio del carruaje se convirtió en la novela de misterio más vendida del siglo XIX y la primera mitad del siglo XX, y supu
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
For something that was written around 120 years ago, this was incredibly readable. I loved the story - it was full of twists and turns and misdirection, and it paints a brilliant picture of 1880s Melbourne. I think at least part of my enjoyment was due to the fact that I knew all the places Hume mentions in detail, so I could get a mental picture of Brian hailing a hansom cab outside Scot's Church, of the cab making its way down St. Kilda Road, of strolls through the Treasury Gardens, and trips ...more
Fernando Jimenez
Curioso eslabón perdido entre el folletín decimonónico y la novela policíaca. Publicada el mismo año que 'Estudio en escarlata', obtuvo mucho más éxito que ésta aunque sus elementos están combinados más en crudo. Lo más interesante es la propia historia del libro, que cuenta su autor en un prólogo que en esta edición aparece acertadamente al final. De edición local (en un Melbourne al margen de los centros de decisión cultural y comercial) y autofinanciada a best-seller sobre el que hay disputas ...more
Dec 28, 2007 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, mystery
I do like a good murder mystery and living in Melbourne I do like books that give me a bit of an insight into what Melbourne was once like. This book is one of the world's first detective mysteries - pre-dating A Study in Scarlet by a year. The story is a bit crappy, to be honest, but it is well worth a read. Particularly if you live in Melbourne. The Mystery is a dead body found in a cab that travels from Collins Street down to St Kilda Junction - now, it is hard to get too much more Melbourne ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Clio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Great murder mystery, full of intrigue, twists and characters whom you wish will get their comeuppance. It's a very old book- published 1886, and yet due to the many Phryne Fisher and Georgette Heyer novels I've devoured I felt very comfortable reading. It stands the test of time remarkably well and is wonderful in its references and allusions to Marvelous Melbourne. As a Melbournian I recommend this book just to feel how our city was over 100 years ago.
Fascinating murder mystery, recommended f
Marts  (Thinker)
Jun 20, 2012 Marts (Thinker) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
This mystery was quite intriguing. A man is murdered in a most unlikely place, a hansom cab, and though initially it seems as though the mystery of his death is a pretty easy one to solve, some rather minute details make the investigators realise that solving the mystery is much harder than they could ever imagine. The investigation leads those of the legal fraternity into the depths of the lives of some of the most seemingly inappropriate individuals, until they are finally able to piece all th ...more
Sean Kennedy
Pre-dating even Sherlock Holmes, this is Melbourne's first ever murder mystery novel. Although the pacing is slow and the resolution of the killer is slightly lacklustre and even easy to guess, it was a definite treat to see Melbourne as she was at the time of writing. I never knew Fitzroy Gardens used to have lockable gates surrounding them! Wish I had known that during all my traipses through there.
Apr 03, 2016 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this mystery and found it very different from any I have read before. I recommend it both for exposure to a different (to me) writing approach and for the story itself.
M Kathleen
Nov 24, 2016 M Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mystery in the classical style

Reader's eye view of another era, both in wrestle and inline

A reader's eye view into another era, both in lifestyle and in social mores. Twists and turns as the plot unwind. Worth the effort!

Mar 25, 2017 Kiaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bonus points for being set in Melbourne
Aug 25, 2014 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fergus Hume wrote something close to 130 novels in his life, but it seems none had the impact of this one, which sold 100,000 copies in its initial two print runs, then went on to sell more than a million copies internationally.

The fact he was ripped off on the international sales (fifty quid for the rights? And no other cash? Why not?) possibly explains the other 129 novels. But chicanery aside, it's worth noting how popular the book was on release. Arthur Conan Doyle pooh-poohed it but he pro
Nicola Mansfield
I've wanted to read this for a long time. A thrilling Victorian crime mystery with all sorts of sensationalism. There are murder and mayhem, mistresses and illegitimate children, poison and blackmail. It's a well-written and easy to read novel from this era. The suspense during the trial and at the unravelling of the mystery are delicious. There is a death scene of a drunken hag which is outrageously overdramatic. In fact, there are a few melodramatic scenes which made me giggle with delight. Wr ...more
Dec 25, 2014 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, classics, kindle
Copyright expired - free for Kindle

Enjoyable, and the author will likely turn out to be a good find, as he was very prolific and all of his books are out of copyright now, but the book lost a 4th star near the end due to the characters' handling of a final piece of evidence and the author's use of it to unnecessarily stretch the book awkwardly.

Do not read the author's preface before starting the book, as he mentions who the murderer is.

Note for anyone getting the free Kindle version, there's a
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Fergusson Wright Hume (1859–1932), English lawyer and prolific author spent a number of years in New Zealand and Australia where he began his career of more than thirty years writing detective stories, including his first novel and international best-seller The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886).

Fergusson [Fergus] Wright Hume was born 8 July 1859 at Powick, Worcestershire, England, son of Glaswegian D
More about Fergus Hume...

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“Young men, not bein' old men," she replied, cautiously, "and sinners not bein' saints, it's not nattral as latch-keys should be made for ornament instead of use, and Mr. Fitzgerald bein' one of the 'andsomest men in Melbourne, it ain't to be expected as 'e should let 'is latch-key git rusty, tho' 'avin' a good moral character, 'e uses it with moderation.” 0 likes
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