Wednesday, the15th of June, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today I’m dipping into my huge pile of unread e-books that I have downloaded but not read yet–most public domain books from Project Gutenberg and other similar sites. My pick today is one by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. Hungarian-British novelist, Baroness Orczy was born in Tarnaörs, Heves County, Hungary, the daughter of composer Baron Felix Orczy de Orci. Her family moved to London in 1880 when she was 14 and in England she was sent to the West London School of Art and then the Heatherley School of Fine Art. At art school, she met her future husband, Henry George Montagu MacLean Barstow, with whom she had a long, joyful and happy marriage. Initially working as translator and illustrator with her husband, she turned to writing after the birth of her son in 1899. Her first novel was The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1899) which didn’t do well, but she didn’t give up and continued writing detective stories. In 1903, she wrote with her husband, The Scarlet Pimpernel as a play, and later submitted a novelised form to various publishers. The Scarlet Pimpernel went on to become her most famous creation with many sequels. Baroness Orczy also wrote plays, translated works from Hungarian, as well as several other novels and short story collections.

Lady Molly of Scotland Yard (1910), today’s pick is one such short story collection featuring one of the earliest fictional female detectives. Molly Robertson-Kirke or Lady Molly is an ace sleuth, head of the women’s department at Scotland Yard. She relies on her brain rather than brawn to solve cases and is faced with perplexing and seemingly unsolvable cases. The book has twelve short stories including a Christmas themed story, and a couple set in castles.

While I have known Baroness Orczy’s books for long, I haven’t read very many so far. I read and enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel years ago but have not yet read any of the sequels and also The Emperor’s Candlesticks which I came across only after having watched a film adaptation (1937) featuring William Powell. The book version of the detective was not quite as suave and confident as the film version but it was an enjoyable read all the same. What interests me in the Lady Molly stories is not only that she is one of the early female detectives of fiction but also that she is shown to be part of Scotland Yard, and I’m curious to see how that works out, what kind of opposition she sees and how she handles it, and of course, how she solves her cases.

Have you read this one or any other’s of Baroness Orczy’s books? Which ones and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Lisa’s pick this week is One Perfect Summer (2020) by Brenda Novak, where a young woman finds she has two half-sisters she knew nothing of, with the three getting to know each other and uncovering family secrets at the family cabin in Lake Tahoe.

Cover image and description as always from Goodreads, and author information from Wikipedia


20 thoughts on “Shelf Control #189: Lady Molly of Scotland Yard by Baroness Emuska Orczy

  1. I loved The Scarlet Pimpernel and have read a few of the sequels, which I also enjoyed although not as much as the original book. I’ve never come across The Emperor’s Candlesticks – I’ll have to investigate!


    1. I’d also recommend the film version with William Powell where the main character is suave and confident and the story has a little more colour in terms of places visited. The book is enjoyable as well.


  2. I’m sure I’ve come across Lady Molly in one of the many vintage crime anthologies of the last few years, and my recollection is of enjoying it. I’ve read a collection of her Old Man in the Corner short stories too, and they didn’t work well for me – I didn’t believe in the detective. But her writing style is quite fun! Hope you enjoy this, and if you do, you may tempt me to investigate further…

    Liked by 1 person

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