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"A Strange Disappearance" by Anna Katharine Green

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A Strange DisappearanceThe "Strange Disappearance" involves a sewing woman who disappears from the household of Holman Blake, much to the dismay of housekeeper Mrs. Daniels, who calls the police even while Mr. Blake remains indifferent to the issue. Ebenezer Gryce and his investigator, known only as "Q," arrive on the scene to a near-hysterical Mrs. Daniels and an annoyed and uncooperative Mr. Blake. Thus begins a series of questions regarding the stated and real objectives of Ms. Daniels and Mr. Blake, and another series of questions as to the reasons for their respective states of hysteria or indifference regarding the disappearance.

In this, the second novel in the "Mr. Gryce" series, Anna Katharine Green lays out two apparently unrelated mysteries, to which Mr. Gryce assigns Q to investigate. Green introduced Q in The Leavenworth Case as rather a shadowy character who gets the job done in spite of, or more likely because of, his strangeness. He was arguably the most enthralling character in the novel. Q's ability to follow leads and ferret out clues, along with his mastery of disguise render him the perfect leg man for the brilliant but reclusive Ebenezer Gryce.

Like The Leavenworth Case, Anna Katharine Green presents the story of A Strange Disappearance from a first-person viewpoint. However, in the former, the narrator was Everett Raymond, a member of the law firm that handled the Leavenworth's legal matters. In the latter, to my delight, the narrator is Q. When he comes to some rash and controversial conclusions, Q finds as much challenge in convincing Mr. Gryce of his own competence as he does in solving the two cases and uncovering the relationship, if any, between the two.

The Leavenworth Case has been Anna Katharine Green's best-known and best-selling novel. However, owing to the storytelling prowess of Q and a compelling story-within-a-story told by Holman Blake, A Strange Disappearance was for this reader even more enjoyable than the first.


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