Masterpieces of Mystery: Riddle Stories

The Black Cat MagazineJoseph Lewis French (1858 – 1936) was a poet, a novelist and an editor. Unusually he is really well-known for being the most industrious anthologist of his time.

I certainly can’t fault him for his choice and combination of stories and authors in the anthologies.

The Masterpieces of Mystery: Riddle Stories is an eclectic mix of unusual mysteries, the supernatural, oddities and riddles. This anthology contains the following short stories:

The Mysterious Card by Cleveland Moffet

Cleveland Moffet (1863 – 1926) was an American playwright, journalist and author. His story The Mysterious Card was published in The Black Cat in 1895. This story has a particularly fascinating piece of trivia attached to it. The second part and the solution of the puzzle was published a year later in 1896. In 1912 the publisher re-released it with an interesting gimmick. The two parts were published together, but the second part was sealed and the buyer was promised a full refund if they managed to return the story with an unbroken seal.

The Mysterious Card Unveiled

I know with absolute certainty that there is no way I would have not broken the seal. Not know the ending to the story? How very bookworm mind-games of them.

The Great Valdez Sapphire (Anonymous)

Unfortunately the author of this piece remains a mystery.

The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe

Poe (1809 – 1849)  is a favourite on the blog, as you may have noticed by now, and also kind of a no-brainer when it comes to adding his work to anthologies of mystery, gothic and the more unusual stories in circulation, both in the past and now. Such as the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, The Raven or The Tell-Tale Heart.

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864) was an American short story writer and novelist. I have actually reviewed this particular story on the blog here. His work often features ‘the moral of the story’ with a strong emphasis on the evil in man and the sins we commit.

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins

William Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889) was an English writer and playwright. He was a friend of Charles Dickens and some of Collins first work was published in a few of his journals. The Woman in White has become a standard piece of work in English high school education. Read The Queen of Hearts, Man and Wife or The Fallen Leaves.

The Torture by Hope by Villiers d’lsle Adam

Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam (1838 – 1889) was a French writer. His work was often considered too eccentric and obscure to be of any interest to the public. He was a poor aristocrat, who struggled to be recognised for his work and his family’s influential history. Contes cruels, Tribulat Bonhomet, La révolte, drame en un acte en Auguste Mathias are just a few of his pieces of work.

The Box with The Iron Clamps by Florence Marryat

This mystery story was published in multiple anthologies and was also serialised in London Society in the summer months of 1886. Florence Marryat  (1833 – 1899) was a British author, actress and she was also a spiritualist, which might explain why her stories tend to be darker and more mysterious. Like Mad Dumaresq or The Confessions of Gerald Estcourt. She was also the daughter of the novelist Captain Frederick Marryat, who is known for the Marryat’s Code, a maritime flag signalling system. He is also known for early so-called sea-faring stories. such as The Midshipman Easy and his children’s story The Children of the New Forest.


My Fascinating Friend by William Archer

Interestingly enough Archer played a pivotal role in introducing Henrik Ibsen’s work to the English public. He translated many of his plays both alone and in collaboration with others. His own work The Green Goddess; a play in four acts, wasn’t as acclaimed as his work as a literary critic.

The Lost Room by Fitz James O’Brien

Fitz James O’Brien (1828 – 1862) was an Irish-American author who emigrated to America as a young adult. He is recognised as an early writer of science fiction. The Poems and stories of Fitz James O’Brien. The Wondersmith part 1 and The Wondersmith part 2, the Diamond Lens was actually a favourite of H.P. Lovecraft.

Download The Mysterious Card, The Mysterious Card UnveiledThe Oblong Box, The Birth-Mark or The Lost Room at Feedbooks, The Children of the New Forest, The Midshipman Easy, Life and Letters of Captain Marryat, The Strange Transfiguration of Hannah Stubbs, The Masterpieces of Mystery Riddle Stories, The Green Goddess, at the Internet Archive. Alternatively you can listen to Twelve creepy Tales by Poe, The Diamond Lens, The Demon of the Gibbet. The Great Valdez Sapphire at Librivox.

Read The Birthmark, The Club of Queer Trades, The Scarecrow of Oz, Poor Pauline: The Ultimate Damsel in Distress, The Magic Fishbone, Sharks Attack the Public Domain, Dressed to Kill, Dancing on the Ceiling, The Oblong Box, The Shadow, A Houseboat on the Styx, The Snow Creature or Flying Saucer Fool right here on the blog.

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