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Moriarty’s Rivals: 12 Female Masterminds


“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Independent, unconventional, seductive and highly intelligent. Female master criminals—women who ran gangs or criminal organisations—slowly emerged in detective fiction towards the end of the 19th century. Before that, female ‘adventuresses’ were often portrayed as ‘women wronged’ out for revenge, or gold-diggers hoping to ensnare an elderly and wealthy husband.

This Great Detectives and Master Criminals Anthology is a collection of 48 tales that feature female master criminals from the late 1800s to the early 1920s. Some are being made available for Kindle for the very first time, and are exclusive to ROH Press.

We start with Meade and Eustace’s Mme. Koluchy in The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings (1898), arguably the first female ‘mad scientist’ in Victorian fiction to become a criminal mastermind. She’s followed a few years later by Madame Sara in The Sorceress of the Strand, a collection of stories by the same authors about a “professional beautifier” who combines her scientific and medical prowess to commit all sorts of crimes. Other master criminals include Edgar Wallace’s Four Square Jane, Frederick Irving Anderson’s Sophie Lang, David Durham’s Fidelity Dove, and The Bird of Paradise, a Nick Carter foe who ran an all-female criminal organisation in turn-of-the-century New York. Harry Blyth’s Mrs. Pink, though only playing a supporting role in Run to Earth (1895), has been included because she may very well be the first female character running a criminal organisation in Victorian fiction. For comic satire, there is no one finer than John Kendrick Bangs’ Henriette Van Raffles, an amateur crackswoman and socialite who takes great pleasure in robbing and mocking the upper classes of her time. The collection ends with Miss Brandt: Adventuress, Margery Lawrence’s debut novel about a high-society jewel thief, made available for the first time in over 70 years.

We’ve also included the origin stories of the greatest female adversaries of three great detectives: Irene Adler versus Sherlock Holmes, Mademoiselle Yvonne versus Sexton Blake and Mademoiselle Miton versus Nelson Lee. These women were far more than just excellent foils for their male counterparts: Adler’s first appearance in A Scandal in Bohemia was instrumental in launching ‘Baker Street mania’. Mademoiselle Miton filled the pages of the Nelson Lee Library with international intrigue. Mademoiselle Yvonne, created by G. H. Teed, was the prototype for many of Blake’s later female adversaries. You’ll also find an extensive bibliography of further adventures.

The collection includes:

The Victorian Era
Madame Koluchy: The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings
I: At the Edge of the Crater
II: The Winged Assassin
III: The Swing of the Pendulum
IV: The Luck of Pitsey Hall
V: Twenty Degrees
VI: The Star-Shaped Marks
VII: The Iron Circlet
VIII: The Mystery of the Strong Room
IX: The Bloodhound
X: The Doom

Madame Sara: The Sorceress of the Strand
I: Madame Sara
II: The Blood-Red Cross
III: The Face of the Abbott
IV: The Talk of the Town
V: The Bloodstone
VI: The Teeth of the Wolf

Mrs. Pink: Run to Earth (First Kindle Edition)

On the Lighter Side…
Henriette Van Raffles: Mrs. Raffles Being the Adventures of an Amateur Crackswoman

Matching Wits with the Great Detectives
Irene Adler vs Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia
Mademoiselle Yvonne vs Sexton Blake: Beyond Reach of the Law (First Kindle Edition)
Mademoiselle Miton vs Nelson Lee: The Black Wolf (First Kindle Edition)
The Bird of Paradise vs Nick Carter : Nick Carter’s Foxy Adversary (First Kindle Edition)

The Roaring Twenties
Four Square Jane
Sophie Lang: The Signed Masterpiece
Fidelity Dove: The Genuine Old Master & The Gulverbury Diamonds
Miss Brandt: Adventuress (First Kindle Edition)

The Canadian Edition also includes The Sins of Sumuru by Sax Rohmer and another Sexton Blake classic They Shall Repay!, an adventure that has the great British detective match wits against Canadian criminal mastermind Mademoiselle Roxane Harfield.

The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings: “The stories are all entertaining and cleverly constructed. There are fiendish plots, ingenious murder attempts, and infernal machines. These are crime thrillers that occasionally veer just a little in the direction of what you might call steampunk techno-thrillers. Highly recommended.” Vintage Pop Fictions

The Sorceress of the Strand: “One of the most fascinating stories of late years.” Evening Star, Mar 24, 1904

The Exploits of Fidelity Dove: “An amazing individuality is revealed in the slender, exquisite Fidelity Dove.” Hodder and Stoughton, The Observer, London. 1924

Miss Brandt: Adventuress: “A cracking good read.” Jess Nevins, The Best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Anna Brandt.

Imprint ROH Press Great Detectives & Master Criminals
Published 06/07/2020
ISBN 978-1-987886-65-8
Length 1106 pages
Crime Anthologies
Sexton Blake: The Early Years
Sexton Blake: The Answers Casebook
Sexton Blake: The Yvonne Cartier Files
Sexton Blake: The Wu Ling Files
Sexton Blake and Nelson Lee
Nelson Lee: The Black Wolf Files
Nelson Lee: The Pluck Casebook
Nelson Lee: The Landmark Cases
Moriarty’s Rivals: 12 Female Masterminds
Miss Brandt: Adventuress


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