cover image The Big Bow Mystery

The Big Bow Mystery

Israel Zangwill. Dybbuk Press, LLC, $13 (196pp) ISBN 978-0-9766546-3-6

Whodunit fans who prefer their murders mysteriously committed behind locked doors will appreciate this reissue of the first impossible crime novel, penned by the unlikely Zangwill (1864-1926)-better known during his lifetime as an ardent British Zionist-in the late 1890s. Widowed landlady Mrs. Drabdump and retired Scotland Yarder Grodman batter down a secured and bolted bedroom door to find Arthur Constant, a hero of the working classes, dead from a cut throat. After suicide is quickly ruled out, the puzzle captures the city's imagination, with theory after theory (some poking fun at Poe's solution to ""The Murders in the Rue Morgue"") floated in the press, until Grodman himself returns to the lists to try to clear the man condemned to death for the crime. The plot device has been used many times since, but Zangwill deserves credit for inventing it and enlisting it in an entertaining and timeless plot. With a sardonic style and vivid, Dickensian characterizations of Victoria-era London, Zangwill still appeals to contemporary readers.