Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - The Old Man in the Corner

I loved Baroness Emmuska Orzcy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. That story, and its sequels, are probably better known than her mystery stories. The Scarlet Pimpernel was even made into a musical. But, I remember reading her short stories about the Old Man in the Corner with fondness. It's nice to know they are back in print.

This anonymous character, known only as the Old Man in the Corner, was one of the earliest and greatest of the armchair detectives. The first story appeared in a magazine in 1901. Polly Burton, a young reporter of the Evening Observer, brought cases to him, where he sat in his chair in a London tea shop. Without leaving that chair, he would unravel the complex cases, as he tied and untied complicated knots in a piece of string. He's a brilliant man, who uses his intelligence to successfully find a resolution to each story. He is also unusual in that he often feels sympathy for the criminal.

For anyone who enjoys complicated short mysteries, these are a treat. And, it's a treat to see them back in print, in hardcover, paperback, and even large print.

The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy. 1st World Library, published 2006. ISBN 9781421800103 (hardcover), 296p.

And, for other Friday "Forgotten" Books, check out Patti Abbott's website at, where she summarizes all the suggestions for Friday.


pattinase (abbott) said...

This looks wonderful. A long time since I've visited the armchair detectives.

Lesa said...


I didn't want to give too much away, but one story really is a surprise. I always enjoyed these stories.

Bill Crider said...

Hey, no fair, I did this one already!

Lesa said...

That's OK, Bill. I'm sure you have much more of a mystery audience than I do. Patti didn't tell me you already did it, and I didn't go back and check. I know Kay & I did the same book within a couple weeks.

Good books should be mentioned over and over!

Martin Edwards said...

The Old Man stories are, at least in my opinion, among the best involving a refreshingly different rival to Sherlock Holmes.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Martin. I'm just afraid there are not a lot of us around who remember them - you, me and Bill Crider. (smile)