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The Big Bow Mystery
by Israel Zangwill

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The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

The Big Bow Mystery was one of the first locked-room mystery stories and the first full-length locked-room mystery. It is still one of the best with an ingenious solution. It has been used as the basis for three movies (The Perfect Crime (1928), The Crime Doctor (1934), The Verdict (1946)).

Set in London's East End, in Bow, a murder occurred inside a locked room, with no clear indication as to the weapon used, the perpetrator of the crime, or a possible escape route. Mrs. Drabdump, a widow who rents out rooms, panics when one of her lodgers does not respond to her attempts to wake him. She seeks the help of her neighbor George Grodman, a former detective, who eventually forces his way inside the room. They find Arthur Constant dead, his throat slashed. The modus operandi of the murder is baffling since the door and windows were locked and secured from the inside leaving no escape route for the murderer. The motive is also a mystery as Constant was a likable man, known for his efforts to help the working class. The case is taken up by Grodman and Inspector Edward Wimp, who share a mutual detest, yet play along with an act of cordiality. Together they unravel the mystery that has left everyone clueless.

Zangwill is the first detective story author to introduce a false solution that appears to fit the evidence but eventually is taken apart bit by bit until the true solution is presented.

1st edition 1891 (serialized in The Star), 1892 published as a novel; PDF 94 pages.
word count: 42462 which is equivalent to 169 standard pages of text

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