Sunday, March 3, 2013

Uncle Abner

I am a native of West Virginia and although I didn't live there for more than a few months after I was born I did return every summer while I was growing up and periodically since then. My mother's family were early settlers in that part of Virginia that became West Virginia. My identification with the place is primarily familial and nostalgic and I have many friends with a less tenuous claim to familiarity. Nevertheless, when I come across some piece of history or literature related to the state I usually pay attention. Some years ago I discovered that one of the great American mystery writers was Melville Davisson Post, a West Virginian. I just downloaded several of his books from the Many Books site: Free ebooks by Melville Davisson Post. I noted that one of the stories in Dwellers in the Hills [1901] refers to Lost Creek, a West Virginia location familiar to me and to many of my Seventh Day Baptist friends. Many of Post's stories are set in the state. Post's most famous collection of mystery stories is Uncle Abner [1918] - about which I've posted before.

Joseph Bottum wrote
There is a case to be made that the Uncle Abner stories—the twenty-two tales of the Virginia hills written by Melville Davisson Post between 1911 and 1928—are among the finest mysteries ever written. .... [H]igh as Post's tales rank in general mystery fiction, they stand at the very top of the subgenre of religious mysteries. In the deliberate tone of the stories and the matching of the writing's pitch to its subject, in the uniting of the religious element with the detective's action and the sense of good's battle against evil in the solution of a crime, only G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown belongs beside Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner. ....
Uncle Abner is another of Post's books available, free, as an e-book for Kindle, Nook, and other electronic formats: Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries by Melville Davisson Post - Free eBook.
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