The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill is a locked room murder mystery that is usually taken to be the first full length novel of that type. (Edgar Allan Poe got to the concept earlier in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. But that was a short story rather than a full novel.)
The book has plenty of black humour – an unusual choice for murder stories of the time – and features a nicely caricatured appearance by William Gladstone. There is a strong backdrop of satire of Victorian society to go with the main business of the murder plot.
The revelation of how the locked room crime occurred is clever, even if you have come across derivatives of it in subsequent locked room plots. There are a couple of Jonathan Creek plots which use very similar explanations to the one found in this book, for example.
The motivation of the murderer didn’t really work for me, though as the puzzle is much more about the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’ that only takes a little away from the enjoyment.
My version was a print on demand book. It has the poor typography and design that is common with such books, alas, and also a cover that warps very easily. The main text is all there and, some horrible layout aside, all readable. But if part of the pleasure you get from reading is the physical experience of handling a book, this one will disappoint, so look out for a normal edition instead.
If you like this, you might also be interested in The Hollow Man, with its wonderfully superfluous spilling of numerous different locked room plot devices.
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