Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday 56: The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume

 Welcome to this week's Friday 56 - this Friday 56 comes from The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, a book that I purchased in Sydney, Australia last week.  I went into several bookstores looking for an author that might be less widely available in the US.  I was excited to find out about Fergus Hume and his 1886 detective novel that predated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.  It turns out that these books are available on Amazon (Surprise! Surprise!) and that there are free kindle versions of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.  

Curious? Learn more about Fergus Hume and his writings on Inside Story -

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 from The Mystery of a Hansom Cab - but the sentences are so long, page 56 only held 3 sentences.  This comes from page 57:

If he goes into speculation, it turns out well; if he marries a wife, she is sure to be everything that can be desired; if he aspires to a position, social or political, he attains it with ease -- worldly wealth, domestic happiness, and good position, all these belong to the men who have luck. 

The blurb:
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is the original blockbuster crime novel.  Set in marvelous Melbourne of the late 19th century, it tells a devilishly tricky tale.

ISBN-10: 1921922222 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Text Classics (June 18, 2013), pages 432.

About the Author:
Fergus Hume was born in England in 1859.  His family soon emigrated to New Zealand, where Hume qualified as a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1885 and moved to Melbourne the same year.  

Desperate to become a playwright but having no success, Hume decided to write a murder novel instead.  When he couldn't find a publisher for The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, he published it himself. It was a sensation and sold over twenty thousand copies in Melbourne.  

With a hit on his hands, Hume sold his copyright to Hansom Cab Publishing Company in London for fifty pounds.  The book was a phenomenal success but Hume never saw another penny from his bestseller.  It may have influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Hume moved back to England in 1888 after the publication of his second novel, Madame Midas.  He embarked on a career that produced over 130 novels.  He never became a famous playwright but he did co-write the theatrical adaptation of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which played in London for 500 nights.  THe story was also filmed three times in the silent era.