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In this well-plotted, character-driven mystery, Detective Gryce receives a cryptic message calling him to the scene of a “strange” crime. He soon finds that the adjective is correct, for in a quiet brownstone house in a respectable New York City neighborhood, he finds the body of a man brutally stabbed to death, yet lovingly laid out on the floor of his study. The only apparent witnesses are a deaf and dumb butler driven mad by the event, and a caged bird that sings out a vital but puzzling clue. Before he solves the crime, with the help of the redoubtable Miss Amelia Butterworth, Gryce must uncover a motive that spans generations and the passions that have kept it alive. Anna Katharine Green was a pioneering writer of detective fiction in the United States. Her first such novel, The Leavenworth Case, was published in 1878. She is credited with changing the genre by making her stories legally accurate. She invented the "girl detective." But her works remained popular because of their lively, twisting plots and the strong characters she developed. (Summary by Christine Dufour)