(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Grant Allen wrote what he himself acknowledged to be potboilers. Most of his works appeared in serial form in popular magazines such as the Cornhill and the Strand; they were later republished in collections that revolved around a central character. Of these collections, the most famous is An African Millionaire (1897). Its central character, Colonel Clay, has been called “the first great thief of short mystery fiction.” Besides being the first English writer of “crook fiction,” a type of inverted crime story, Allen may have been the first writer to make use of female sleuths: Miss Cayley, in Miss Cayley’s Adventures (1899), and Hilda Wade, in the novel named for her (1900).