HomeHome - Where you will find out more about mystery novels, find new authors, and learn about some really great older ones.


A Chronology of Mystery Firsts

Mystery Author Index

This chronology is of the dates of publication of first novels by noted writers of mystery fiction and of other events of significance in the development of the mystery novel.

1603 - The Tokugawa shogunate establishes samurai police in Japan.

1674 - The publication of the proceedings of Old Bailey, London's central criminal court.

1749 - The Bow Street Runners was established in London by Henry Fielding.

1798 - The Thames River (Marine) Police was established in London. This was a force of professional, paid policemen.

1800 - The Paris Prefecture of Police was established.

1828 - Memoirs by Eugene Francois Vidocq - Expert detective, head of the French police, and prototype of many fictional detectives.

1829 - The formation of the London Metropolitan police department.

1834 - Vidocq established Le Bureau de Reseignments, the first private detective agency.

1835 - Ballistic Fingerprinting - was first used to identify guns from the bullets they fired.

1836 - James Marsh developed the Marsh Test - for the detection of arsenic. The beginning of the science of forensic chemistry.

1841 - The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe

1842 - The Detective Division of the London Metropolitan Police was established.

1850 - Allan Pinkerton founded Pinkerton's National Detective Agency.

1853 - Bleak House by Charles Dickens. First appearance of a detective in an English novel.

1860 - The first dime novel is published by Beadle and Adams. Publication contined until 1901.

Victorian woman writing

1860 - The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

1862 - Lady Audley's Secret - M. E. Braddon

1864 - The Notting Hill Mystery - by Charles Felix which may be the pseudonym of Charles Warren Adams. Many consider this book to be the first true detective novel.

1864 - The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester, and The Revelations of a Lady Detective by W. S. Hayward. These two books contend to be the first appearance of a woman detective.

1866 - The Widow Lerouge by Emile Gaboriau

1886 - The Mystery of the Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume.

1873 - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began.

1878 - The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green

1887 - A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. The first appearance of Sherlock Holmes.

1887 - Expiation by E. Phillips Oppenheim

1888 - The first murders attributed to Jack the Ripper

1890 - Alphonse Bertillon discovers that each fingerprint is unique, and the use of fingerprinting in solving crimes rapidly grows.

1891 - The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill. The first locked room mystery.

1894 - The Experiences of Loveday Brooke: Lady Detective by C(atherine) L(ouisa) Pirkis. The first appearance of a woman detective written by a woman.

1899 - The Amateur Cracksman by E. W. Hornung.

1903 - The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. Maybe not the first spy novel, but the one which was most influential on later writers.

1906 - The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart

1907 - The Red Thumb Mark by R. Austin Freeman

1908 - The Mystery of the Yellow Room - by Gaston Leroux. The first mystery in which the person investigating the crime is the murderer.

1909 - The British Secret Service was formed. It is the precursor of MI-5

1909 - The Clue by Carolyn Wells.

1910 - The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton

1913 - Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley. This book has been cited as the first book of the Golden Age of Mystery fiction.

1913 - The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer

1913 - The Technique of the Mystery Story by Carolyn Wells. The first book about how to write a mystery story.

1919 - Prohibition in the US begins with the passage of the 19th amendment. This leads to a new era of crime, and of corruption in the government.

1920 - Call Mr. Fortune by H. C. Bailey

1920 - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

1920 - The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts

1920 - First issue of Black Mask Magazine

1921 - Invention of the lie detector by John Larson.

1923 - "Arson Plus" by Dashiell Hammett. The first Continental Op story was published in Black Mask Magazine.

1923 - Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers

1925 - The Layton Court Mystery by Anthony Berkeley Cox.

1925 - The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers.

1925 - The Viaduct Murder by Ronald A. Knox

1926 - The Benson Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine

1927 - The Tragedy at Freyne by Anthony Gilbert. (Pseudonym of Lucy Malleson).

1928 or 1929 or 1932 - The formation of The Detection Club

1928 - The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham

1928 - Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth. The first Miss Maud Silver book.

1929 - Enter the Tiger by Leslie Charteris. The first Saint novel.

1929 - Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

1929 - Speedy Death by Gladys Mitchell

1929 - The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen

1929 - The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey

1930 - It Walks by Night by John Dickson Carr

1930 - Secret of the Old Clock which was the first Nancy Drew mystery.

1931 - The Stange Case of Peter the Lett by Georges Simenon

1932 - Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

1933 - The Case of the Velvet Claws by Earle Stanley Gardner

1934 - The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

1934 - A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh

1934 - Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout

1935 - A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day Lewis)

1936 - Case for Three Detectives - Leo Bruce

1936 - Death at the President's Lodging by Michael Innes (J.I.M. Stewart)

1937 - Murder in Hospital - Josephine Bell

1937 - The Case of the Seven of Calvary by Anthony Boucher.

1938 - The Dance of Death by Helen McCloy

1939 - The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

1940 - Unexpected Night by Elizabeth Daly

1940 - The Norths Meet Murder by Francis and Richard Lockridge

1941 - Death in High Heels by Christianna Brand

1941 - The Invisible Worm by Margaret Millar

1944 - The Dark Tunnel by Ross Macdonald

1945 - The Immaterial Murder Case by Julian Symons

1947 - I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane

1949 - The Judas Cat by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

1950 - Strangers on a Train - by Patricia Highsmith

1951 - Fallen Into the Pit - by Ellis Peters (Edith Mary Pargeter)

1951 - The Chinese Maze Murders by Robert van Gulik

1953 - Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. The first James Bond book.

1954 - Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay. The first Edgar award for best mystery novel.

1956 - Receipt for Murder - by Gwendolyn Butler

1956 - Cop Hater - by Ed. McBain (Evan Hunter)

1957 - Summer Flight - by Margaret Yorke

1959 - Death and the Visiting Firemen by H. F. R. Keating

1959 - Dead Men Don't Ski by Patricia Moyes

1960 - The Mercenaries by Donald Westlake

1961 - Banking on Death - Emma Lathen

1962 - Love in Amsterdam - by Nicholas Freeling

1962 - Dead Cert by Dick Francis

1962 - Cover Her Face by P. D. James

1964 - In the Last Analysis - by Amanda Cross (Carolyn Heilbrun)

1964 - The Transcendental Murder by Jane Langton

1964 - The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald

1964 - From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell

1966 - The Religious Body - by Catherine Aird

1970 - A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill

1970 - The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman

1970 - The New Centurions by Joseph Wambaugh

1973 - The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker

1974 - Death of an Old Goat by Robert Barnard

1975 - Cast, in order of Disappearance by Simon Brett

1975 - Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter

1975 - The Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz)

1975 - Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwillem van de Wetering

1977 - Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller

1979 - The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

1981 - The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes

1982 - Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky

1983 - A for for Alibi by Sue Grafton

1984 - DNA fingerprinting technique discovered by Dr. Alec Jeffries of the Lister Institute.

1984 - Sick of Shadows by Sharyn McCrumb

1986 - Strangled Prose by Joan Hess

1986 - Formation of Sisters in Crime

1987 - Death on Demand by Carolyn Hart

1987 - Report for Murder by Val McDermid

1987 - Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

1987 - The Gallows View by Peter Robinson

1988 - A Great Deliverance - by Elizabeth George

1990 - Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell


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