London: John Lane / Boston: Roberts Bros., 1895. 8 pp undated ads plus 16 pp ads dated 1895. Original purple cloth decorated in cream.
First Edition of M.P. Shiel's first book, issued as the seventh volume in John Lane's provocative "Keynotes Series," for which Aubrey Beardsley provided the cover / title page design as well as the key monogram. This is actually a collection of three supernatural mysteries...~Prince Zaleski, an exiled Russian nobleman, inhabits a half-ruined abbey in Wales, where he spends most of his time smoking cannabis and opium... His retirement from the world is occasionally interrupted by his friend Shiel, who comes to seek Zaleski's help in solving mysteries that have baffled the greatest minds in Britain. In "The Race of Orven," Zaleski must unravel a case involving a burglary, a murder, a floating phantasm, and three severed fingers. In "The Stone of the Edmundsbury Monks," the prince races against time to solve the mystery of a jewel from the Crusades that may cause a man's death. And in the final story of the collection, "The S.S.," an inexplicable wave of thousands of apparent suicides puts Zaleski to the ultimate test and leads to a deeply disturbing conclusion... Prince Zaleski incorporated two of the popular trends in 1890s literature: decadence and detective stories. Influenced by Poe, Huysmans, and Wilde, Shiel's decadent detective remains one of the most intriguing creation of fin-de-siècle British fiction. [Fox]~This is a very good copy -- the main problem being (as usual with this color of cloth) that the spine has sunned to a medium brown; there is also minor edge-wear and other soil. There are occasional pencil-markings in the text, and the front paste-down bears the ink-stamp of Thacker & Co. in Bombay -- both of which are referred to in an enclosed 1958 letter from one prior owner to the next. Queen's Quorum #19; Morse p. 33; Samuels Lasner (Beardsley) 31. Item #13327