Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Leavenworth Case” as Want to Read:
The Leavenworth Case
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Leavenworth Case

(Mr. Gryce #1)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,520 ratings  ·  227 reviews

"The Leavenworth Case", published in 1878, was the first detective novel written by a woman and one of the first modern bestsellers. It sold a quarter of a million copies, and earned its author, Anna Katherine Green the title of "The Mother of the Detective Novel." This first book starred Detective Ebenezer Gryce, a low key, middle aged New York police officer. He went on

Hardcover, 348 pages
Published July 2nd 2002 by (first published 1878)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,520 ratings  ·  227 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Leavenworth Case
Tristram Shandy
The Dead Man in the Library

If there is anything classic detective stories have ever taught us, it is this – that libraries are probably the most likely non-combat-related places for you to get killed in, with private ones being even more dangerous than those of the public order. There are probably cruel and callous people out there who would think nothing of killing a man over a book – whereas it is doubtless more romantic to kill a man over a woman –, and that’s why libraries usually abound in
Nancy Oakes
Such a satisfying story! Nothing at all is as it seems here, making for great mystery reading. Another book I'm very, very happy to have read. Ahhhhhhhh.

Let me say the following to anyone who might be thinking of reading this book: There is a very good reason I don't read GR reviews before starting a book, and this time my reasoning proved sound -- after finishing this novel, I cruised through the reviews here, and discovered that there is one person writing about this book who gave away the
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a super-excellent mystery, and I am awed by its existence. Author Green wrote and published this nearly a decade before Sherlock Holmes entered the world, and many of the conventions of the genre are present in this book. Green also throws in diagrams, codes, and passages written from alternate perspectives, complete with a shift in the tone of the prose. I am amazed that this is the kind of "sensationalist" reading that the public could pick up in the late-19th century. People probably ...more
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1878, The Leavenworth Case is a classic murder mystery written by Anna Katharine Green. Green is credited with developing the modern detective genre with her series featuring NY police detective Ebenezer Gryce. This book is the first of the series and the best known. It has the feel of The Moonstone in its language, formality, and story complicated by Victorian manners and sensibilities. It's also a well-constructed mystery that features many of the devices we've come to recognize - ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
A very interesting novel. You can see what would come out of it (the modern series mystery), but you can also see where it was coming from - the sensation novels of the 1860s, Dickens, and the American sentimental novel tradition.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I'm glad to have found this author. This is apparently her most well known of the many mysteries she wrote. As the GR descriptions says, Mr. Raymond is a lawyer with the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond. He is called to the home of Horatio Leavenworth the morning Mr. Leavenworth's body is discovered, slumped at his desk with a bullet in the back of his head. Mr. Veeley, the senior partner of the firm, was a close friend of Mr. Leavenworth, but, as he was out of town, Mr. Raymond was called ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of detective stories
Anna Katharine Green was one of the originators of the detective story. Her detective, Mr. Gryce, was created nine years before Sherlock Holmes came on the scene. Ms. Green was an influence on Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle.

The story is fast paced with several improbable events. It is enjoyable to read an early detective story written by an American, since the most well-known authors are English.

A brief synopsis: Uncle is killed. Uncle's heir is one of his nieces. At first, it looks like the
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Leavenworth Case was written by Anna Katharine Green and originally published in 1878--nine years before Doyle's A Study in Scarlet. It is often considered the first full-length detective story written by a woman. It was an enormous success with the public, reportedly selling more than 750,000 copies in its first decade and a half, and, for nearly half a century, Anna Katharine Green was one of America's most popular authors. She wrote many other novels, but what reputation she has today ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A very fun, old-time mystery/detective novel, much in the vein of Wilkie Collins (though not quite as well done). I had solved the mystery of who-done-it and why about half way in, but that did not keep me from wanting to finish the story and see all the loose ends tied up.

In the flavor of books of this era, it is a bit too neatly tied up and unrealistic by modern day standards. It is always important to think about these books in reference to the time in which they were written and without the
The Leavenworth Case published in 1878 and subtitled A Lawyer's Story, is a detective novel by Anna Katharine Green. It is also her first novel and she came to be called "the mother of the detective novel" writing more than twenty detective novels and a whole bunch of other books that weren't about crime and murder and all that stuff. Green first wanted to write poetry, but when her poetry failed to gain recognition, she switched to novels. Her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case, ...more
Koen Kop
Apr 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After a promising start, degenerates into tedious, lengthy, verbose melodrama. Lengthy is an understatement - pages of irrelevant chatter interspersed with a few sentences of pertinent information - imagine an entire chapter (27) in which all of this happens: protagonist takes a room with board at the address where a disappeared witness has holed up; he recognizes the landlady as someone he has seen at the local post office trying to conceal two letters ... that's it, that's all - could and ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The beginning was exceedingly promising:

“I had been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond, attorneys and counselors at law, for about a year, when one morning, in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of haste and agitation that I voluntarily rose as he approached, and advanced to meet him.”

Mr. Raymond was told that Mr. Horatio Leavenworth, a long-standing client of his firm, had
Aug 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction
If you'd like to read this, it's in the public domain here. It was mentioned (the new Penguin edition) on NPR as a book worth reading, and it is. In the same way that, say, Citizen Kane is a movie worth watching--you have to keep reminding yourself that it's not Green/Welles who are using the clichés, but rather they're inventing them.

Aside from her massive contribution to mystery writing in the form of the "series detective", I'd say there's not much here to see if you're not a mystery person
Marts  (Thinker)
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A rather interesting classic mystery encompassing the likes of guns, millionaires, beautiful young women, obsessed and unusual secretaries, detectives, and inheritance, etc, etc, and all that... Here, a millionaire by the name of Horatio Leavenworth, Esq. is found murdered, a young lawyer decides to get involved in the case, and the range of events that transpires thereafter makes it quite difficult to solve the mystery...
While the case was interesting and engaging, I can't say that the writing style or the protagonist produced the same impression upon me.
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Leavenworth Case, 1878, by Anna Katharine Greene.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Green had an early ambition to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year. She became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books.

She is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery, classics
This could have been a nice and cozy short story, but it was too long and too detailed.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pacing (and Victorian sentimentality) may perhaps seem a bit off to modern readers, but this remains a fascinating early example of the detective story genre.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Leavenworth Case has influenced the development of detective fiction, but I found many other reasons for appreciating it. To start from the epigraphs introducing each chapter.

”A dead of dreadful note”

The Leavenworth Case is the mystery of a rich man shot dead in the library of his house. Carefully bolted by the butler, the murderer must be someone inside the house.

But if it was a murder, there must have been some motive.

Slow burning at the beginning of the narrative, a secret
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, mystery, 2017
Published nine years prior to Sherlock Holmes, The Leavenworth Case has been called one of the earliest detective fiction books. What makes this book great is that in this age where everyone is blabbering about feminism and boo-hooing patriarchy, Ms Green quietly wrote her story and was published in 1878. And is still in print. Proof that good stuff sticks, no matter what the demographics of the author may be.
Oh... and according to the introduction, Ms Green inspired Agatha Christie.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
My first have-read book of Anna Katharine Green. The plot, plain as it may seem, will leave you on the edge of your seat till the very last chapter.It was very surprising for me to find that it's not just a mystery book but a love story from the very beginning.
Laurel Hicks
Well done! An early murder mystery that helped to shape the genre.
Ivonne Rovira
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
I’m glad that British Library and Poisoned Pen Press have reissued what critics call Anna Katherine Green’s finest work, her first novel The Leavenworth Case. Published in 1878, it predates Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, and Israel Zangwill’s The Big Bow Mystery. In short, Green’s detective novel is one of the first.

But I’m glad more for historical reasons than enjoyment. I loved Green’s Violet Strange stories, but this earliest work
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Leavenworth Case; it was a really good mystery by the "mother of the detective novel." It is one of the first American mysteries, published nine years before Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Leavenworth, the wealthy client of Veeley, Carr, & Raymond, is mysteriously murdered in his library, with (seemingly) very few clues to go on. Everything seems to indicate Mary, his favorite niece and heiress, or her cousin Eleanore. But everything is more complicated than it seems...and that's before ...more
Laura Bang
I came across Green while cataloguing some books by her and was intrigued by the fact that she seems to be the first woman to have written a detective story and was a bestseller of her time. The Leavenworth Case is her first novel (after an unsuccessful poetry career) and her most famous so I thought I'd start here. A very interesting early detective story, though naturally very tied up in its Victorian time (originally published in 1878). This book introduces Green's recurring detective ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early Victorian mystery by one of the most successful American writers of her day. The mystery is a good one with lots of twists and turns, and some truly surprising aspects to it. The writing is sort of florid and sometimes a little hard to get into, but the narrative is still very good. The setup is that a rich man with two wards (his nieces) is found murdered in his library. One of the nieces is suspected, although it's the other one who will inherit all the money. Ebenezer Gryce is the ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century
Although I'd heard of this book as possibly the first detective novel written by a woman, I was a long time getting around to reading it. So glad I did! It was one of the first best-selling American novels with good reason. I was a bit ambilvalent in the beginning as to whether or not I would go on to read more of her books, but as the story progressed it became harder and harder to put down, so yes, I hope to make time in the future for more of Green's books. There are about a dozen novels in ...more
Susan Jo Grassi
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read. It started out a little slowly but picked up and held my interest until the very end. I have wanted to read this book for a long time and was thrilled when I was able to get it on my Kindle. This is one of the first books written using a private detective. It was written in 1876 but did not appear dated at all. I love historical mysteries so this had the added benefit of being true to life.
Athul Raj
This is one of the earliest works in detective/ mystery fiction genre. The technique, modus operandi and motive given in this story has been used in many works since. So, an avid mystery fiction reader may find it a bit ordinary. But considering it's year of publication, this one is truly a good one, which I liked and was unable to guess the culprit till the final revelation.
I only made it about 2/3 of the way through this book before I got bogged down by the extremely slow-moving plot. Unfortunately. I realize the literary importance of this book in the detective genre, but it just didn't capture my attention. Then again, I'm not a dedicated fan of detective novels anyway.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Red Thumb Mark (Dr. Thorndyke Mysteries #1)
  • Trent's Last Case (Philip Trent, #1)
  • The Circular Staircase (Miss Cornelia Van Gorder, #2)
  • Laura
  • The Great Impersonation
  • The Old Man in the Corner (Teahouse Detective #2)
  • The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (Fu Manchu #1)
  • The Benson Murder Case (A Philo Vance Mystery #1)
  • The Dead Secret
  • The Big Bow Mystery
  • The House Without a Key (Charlie Chan, #1)
  • The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
  • The French Powder Mystery (Ellery Queen Detective, #2)
  • The Seven Secrets
  • Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
  • Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery, #4)
  • The Unique Hamlet: A Hitherto Unchronicled Adventure of Mr. Sherlock Holmes
  • The Agony Column
See similar books…
Anna Katharine Green (1846-1935) was an American poet and novelist. She was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and distinguished herself by writing well plotted, legally accurate stories. Born in Brooklyn, New York, her early ambition was to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first ...more

Other books in the series

Mr. Gryce (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • A Strange Disappearance
  • The Sword of Damocles: A Story of New York Life
  • Hand and Ring
  • Behind Closed Doors
  • A Matter of Millions
  • The Doctor, His Wife, and the Clock
  • That Affair Next Door
  • Lost Man's Lane: A Second Episode in the Life of Amelia Butterworth
  • The Circular Study (Mr. Gryce #10)
  • One of My Sons
“It is not for me to suspect but to detect.” 3 likes
“You must never, in reckoning up an affair of murder like this, forget who it is that most profits by the deceased man's death.” 0 likes
More quotes…