Adult Storytime Podcast: “The York Mystery” by Baroness Emma Orczy, from The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

One of the more unconventional crimesolvers created during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is known only as the Old Man in the Corner.  Relying on newspaper coverage and courtroom proceedings, he theorizes solutions to unsolved mysteries, which he shares with a female journalist named Polly Burton while sitting in the corner of a tea shop.  Very unusually for the genre, the Old Man in the Corner never pursues justice.  His admiration instead goes to criminals who manage to outwit the police.

The Old Man in the Corner is the creation of the Baroness Emma Orczy, who was born into an aristocratic family in Hungary in 1865 and emigrated to Great Britain when she was 14.  She began writing in her 30s to help support her low-earning husband and soon had a major hit with The Scarlet Pimpernel, opens a new window, which introduced the trope of the hero with a secret identity into popular culture.

In "The York Mystery", a roguish gentleman is ensnared in the sensational murder of a horseracing bookie on his back doorstep during the annual Ebor Festival, and only the Old Man in the Corner has deduced the real culprit.