A bit of a departure this week, to celebrate the British Library's championing of forgotten authors. The jewel in their crown is the republication of the world's first detective novel, The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Warren Adams, which had been serialised in the magazine Once A Week between 1862 and 1863.
Until the crime expert Julian Symons mentioned it in 1972, the No 1 slot had always been taken by Wilkie Collins with The Moonstone, although Emile Gaboriau's L'Affaire Lerouge had been published in France in 1866. Edgar Allen Poe created C Auguste Dupin, but he only appeared in three short stories, and quite a few casebook reminiscences of various detectives turned up, but there were no complete novels. As is often the case, there was a groundswell of interest in this literary area before a star - Sherlock Holmes - emerged and was venerated above all others, and the rest were lost in the rush.
In its new incarnation, The Notting Hill Mystery proves innovative and cheerfully demented, as it is presented in the form of diary entries, family letters, witness interviews, a chemical analysis report and a crime scene map. Its hero is an insurance investigator building a case against a sinister baron, and the case incorporates kidnapping, acid poisoning, three murders, a dodgy mesmerist and - of course - a rich uncle's will, all embellished with George Du Maurier's illustrations. …