Title: That Affair Next Door
Author: Anna Katherine Green
First published in 1897; republished on 7th April 2020 by Poisoned Press in association with Library of Congress
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Anna Katherine Green was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America. That Affair Next Door was first published in 1897. Taking the year of publication into consideration, I must say this book is definitely above par from some of the mystery classics I have read.
Strong female sleuth portrayal – not to forget, our sleuth is not ‘young’ – and a wonderful plot line are the plus points of this story. The story falls flat halfway through and a series of confusing lines might make a reader lose interest a tad.
Miss Amelia Butterworth notices a man and woman enter the house next door. A couple of minutes later, the man leaves. The next day Miss Butterworth wants to check on the woman, calls a policeman and off they go, knocking her neighbor’s door. A scrub maid opens the door and tells them the owners are yet to arrive.
The policeman goes in to check and finds a dead body. A woman is lying dead under a (fallen) cupboard. The owner of the house and his son arrive soon after. They do not recognize the woman. At the inquest, the younger son initially refuses to acknowledge the fact that the dead woman might be his wife. As the case proceeds, he breaks down and creates a roar in the court. The dead woman is his wife… A day later, he is arrested for her murder.
Now you know why I said the confusing lines might make a reader lose their interest. Howard (the accused) refuses to accept his wife is dead and minutes later, he’s all Mr Pity Party! he tells the coroner he was scared – boo hoo, poor baby! The scrub maid has a secret of her own and Amelia coerces her to reveal it halfway through the story.
Somehow the story falls flat soon after Howard’s revelation. Miss Butterworth is, no doubt, a pretty impressive amateur sleuth. She and the detective in charge – Mr Gryce- have some ego clashes… Hum! The book is divided into three parts. The first part piqued my interest but I cannot say the same about the other two.
Keeping in mind this book was written more than a hundred years ago when the genre Mystery was still a newborn baby, That Affair Next Door is no doubt, a very impressive story. Do not expect any fast-paced mystery sequence in this story. Read it if you are a fan of GAD and pre-GAD.
Second Opinion: Dead Yesterday