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Before there was Sherlock Holmes, there was Ebenezer Gryce. The character first appeared in Anna Katharine Green’s 1878 novel The Leavenworth Case, which has long been cited as instrumental to the development of the mystery genre. The book traces the fallout of the death of a wealthy New York philanthropist named Horatio Leavenworth, and accompanies Gryze as he investigates the man’s untimely and suspicious end. Though readers are likely more familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle and Holmes than with Green and Gryce, Green’s impact on mystery books is wide-ranging. She introduced essential building blocks of the genre through plots inspired by her knowledge of criminal law and legal proceedings. And in Agatha Christie’s 1977 autobiography, she wrote that The Leavenworth Case was one of the novels that spurred her own desire to write detective fiction. —Annabel Gutterman

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