Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for anyone who loves mysteries and detective stories. We’re making our way through the 19th-century stories that helped the genre evolve. Next up: Baroness Orczy’s 1910 collection of short stories, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, about a lady detective — one of the first in fiction!
Baroness Orczy, author of The Scarlet Pimpernel, wrote this collection of short stories about Molly Robertson-Kirk. Lady Molly of Scotland Yard uses her feminine intuition to solve crimes.
How to Read It: Buy it on Amazon or find a copy at a used bookstore.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 hours. Share your thoughts and check out the questions below!
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Professional career of a lady detective – one of the first female detectives – Lady Molly is respected by Scotland Yard – she’s often brought in if there’s a woman in the case – her cases are famous.
Expository storytelling – Mary narrates, much like Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Feminine intuition – sixth sense – Molly is the “most wonderful psychologist of her time” – this lady detective is smarter, bolder, savvier than men (according to Mary) – the “extraordinary faculty which she possesses of divining her fellow-creatures’ motives and intentions.”
Close to the vest – Molly often keeps Mary in the dark – Molly likes the big reveal – Mary speculates at times, and at times Molly toys with Mary (much in the way Sherlock Holmes toys with Watson).
Masquerade – Molly and Mary disguise themselves to obtain information – they’re bold, daring risk-takers, and they’re both quite clever.
Mary’s obsession with Molly – Mary is the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful, most ultra-feminine woman in the world – “I, of course, was her slave” – “dearer than any child could be to its mother” – “my business was to obey” – “I have carried obedience to the level of a fine art.”
Mary, assistant extraordinaire (though their friendship seems uneven).
Station and rank in life (social class) – behaviors, proprietary/impropriety of various connections, legitimacy, good breeding; who should/shouldn’t make it into the will, the [fill in the blank] “usual pattern” common to her class/kind – “Miss—er—Lulu Fay” who bore the stamp of the profession.
Plot holes – By the third story in the collection, Mary has “severed official connection with the Yard” and is working as Lady Mary’s private secretary. In the last two stories, we go back in time, before Lady Mary joined Scotland Yard, and find that Mary was Lady Molly’s maid (?).
Secret marriage – Molly married Captain Hubert, who’s accused of murdering his grandfather’s solicitor and is serving 20 years in prison; Philip Baddock will let him escape to Buenos Aires, as he wants to marry her – isn’t he her half-brother (they have the same mother, Mlle. Desty)?
Career closure – Happy once again, Molly gives up her connection with the police. Goodbye to the lady detective we have come to know and love. (How we wished for a different ending!)
Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for people who love mysteries, thrillers, introspection, and good conversation. Each month, your hosts, Sarah Harrison and Carolyn Daughters, will discuss a game-changing mystery or thriller from the 19th and 20th centuries. Together, we’ll see firsthand how the genre evolved.
Along the way, we’ll entertain ideas, prospects, theories, doubts, and grudges, along with the occasional guest. And we hope to entertain you, dear friend. We want you to experience the joys of reading some of the best mysteries and thrillers ever written.
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