Earlier this year, I introduced you to one of mystery fiction’s first young female sleuths. Today I have another treat for you!
If you read this blog, chances are you’re a fan of the girl detective. Whether you’re getting caught up with Myrtle Hardcastle or grew up with Nancy Drew, you are enjoying a breed of sleuth that has been entertaining readers and outwitting criminals since the earliest days of detective fiction.
Today’s story comes from turn-of-the-twentieth century America, and adds to its author’s pantheon of heroic young women. She’s less well known than that more famous Kansas girl, Dorothy, but this heroine lives up to her name in every way.
L. Frank Baum’s Phoebe Daring, 1912, was part of publisher Reilley & Britton’s catalogue of “exhilarating stories for girls of today.” When young Phoebe’s friend is falsely accused of a shocking crime, she sets out to prove his innocence. Her investigation unravels a web of conspiracy binding together her small town and divides the community—those invested in maintaining the status quo, and those galvanized by her quest for the truth.
Project Gutenberg has a nicely formatted e-book edition, including the gorgeous original illustrations by Joseph Pierre Nuyttens; and LibriVox has all twenty-six chapters in an audio edition.
Phoebe Daring is not just a cracking good mystery full of lively characters, a colorful setting, dastardly villains, and noble heroes. It’s also an inspiring tale about truth, fairness, and the role everyone can play in the pursuit of justice—from the most powerful men in the land to the youngest members of a community. Enjoy!