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Zambra The Detective - Hill, Headon [Francis Edward Grainger] - 1894. 
Chatto and Windus: London, 1894. 8vo. 259pp. + 32pp. ads (dated Nov. 1893). Publisher's dark red cloth over limp (or at least notably thin) boards, titled and decorated in gilt, black and tellow to spine and front board. Publisher's device in black to rear board. Rubbed to extremities, bumped and with some staining and toning to the cloth, some light chipping to the paint on the front board image, but solid, strong and handsome. A very good presentable copy of a significant rarity (the usual suspects list but a handful of copies worldwide). Floral patterned endpapers, internally clean and fresh. The stories included in this collection can trace their origin to the very simple late 19th century recurring theme: "We really like Sherlock Holmes, yes we do, we'd like more of that please." Hill set out to create a rival to Holmes and in fact created one of the more exotic variants on the theme. He realised that there had to be something more than just another deductive consulting detective and, being Headon Hill went full "mad as a bag of weasels" and created not only Zambra but the equally compelling and peculiar Kala Persad (equally rare, totally mad). The Doyle influence is manifestly obvious, although occasionally the cases don't require a mastermind to solve them, and as usual Hill basically decided that every one of the reader's immediate assumptions should be confounded at least once a chapter. Zambra sounds foreign, but is excruciatingly English, his mysteries are titled in a manner that frequently bears only a cursory relationship to the plot, and he specialises in rather entertaining linguistic misdirection. All very entertaining and peculiarly charming; ranking the author quite high on the list of Holmesian bandwagon jumpers who actually had some serious skills of their own. A very scarce and important piece of detective fiction. .
[Bookseller: Jonathan Kearns]
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