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The Four-Pools Mystery

Jean Webster

"As I rolled southward in the train--"jerked" would be a fitter word; the roadbeds of western Virginia are anything but level--I strove to recall my old time impressions of Four-Pools Plantation. It was one of the big plantations in that part of the state, and had always been noted for its hospitality. My vague recollection of the place was a kaleidoscopic vision of music and dancing and laughter, set in the moonlit background of the Shenandoah Valley. I knew, however, that in the eighteen years since my boyhood visit everything had changed."

The Four-Pools Mystery is a mystery-suspense novel by Jean Webster (pseudonym of Alice Jane Chandler Webster) and was published in 1908. The story opens in New York City where an attorney and a crime reporter form a friendship. When the attorney visits an old plantation in Virginia from his youth to recuperate from–well, from being an attorney–the multifaceted mystery begins, with a ghost included, and it will take both friends to solve it. Caution: Content includes offensive racial stereotyping. At the same time it provides an intimate look at race relations in the South at the turn of the last century. Not only is the novel well-written, but the mystery is well-constructed and there’s a moral to its story.

Jean Webster wrote many novels, and is best known for Daddy Long-Legs, a girl’s coming-of-age story. Webster herself led a fascinating life. In her household her grandmother and mother were involved with the temperance movement, suffrage, and racial equality. Jean’s mother was a niece of Mark Twain. Daughter Jean attended Vassar and became active in progressive social movements, supporting Socialist Eugene Debs in the 1900 Presidential election (though women could not yet vote). She died at the young age of 39 in 1916, hours after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, named “Little” Jean in her honor.

Book publisher: New York: The Century Company
Book copyright: 1908
Book edition: The De Vinne Press, March, 1908
Pages: 336
Size: 5″ x 7-5/8″
Dust jacket: No
Illustrations: frontispiece
Back matter: none
Digital edition © 2017, 2021 Curtis Philips. All Rights Reserved.

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