Series of self-contained crime tales published in the Australian Journal. From its inception in 1868, the stories were written by Fortune under the pseudonym W.W. and appeared monthly. 'The notion behind the Detective's Album is a collection of mug-shots, which prompts recollections from their compiler, fictional detective Mark Sinclair' in the format of a short story, 'narrated by the viewpoint of the sleuth'. Fortune continued these stories for the next forty years.
Australian Journal staff writer James Skipp Borlase has occasionally been associated with these stories, in part because of his earlier collaboration with Mary Fortune on the series Memoirs of an Australian Police Officer and Adventures of an Australian Mounted Trooper and in part because he republished certain of the stories in his own collections later. See 'The Dead Witness' and 'Mystery and Murder' for more detailed information on authorship. (His name remains attached to those works in AustLit, but not to this series.)
After Fortune's work on the series ended in 1908, the series was continued in reprints and with works by other authors, including Rex Grayson, A.C. Eiseman, and M. Joseph Lynch. However, Fortune's contribution to the series is likely unequalled both for length of tenure and number of stories.
Sources include Lucy Sussex, 'A Woman of Mystery', Crime Factory 2 (2001), pp.15-16).
On a station on Victoria's coast, a dying man tells his son of a lost casket containing a fortune in diamonds from the USA. A false Baron; a son bent on avenging his dying father; and ambitious beauty; scheming servants and a jilted bride are included. (PB)
Sinclair visits the Victorian country town of Craigengelt and renews his acquaintance with the Forbes family. Lord Forbes has married again to a brassy termagent, and Edward the son is banished while the invalid Baby mourns her mother and her own apparent illegitimacy. Sinclair recognises the new Lady Forbes as a thief and a plan to remove the first Lady's remains reveal she is not dead ... (PB)
Set in a Victorian country township, Sinclair - with the help of a man camping out on his way to a nearby property, a ball of wool, an abandoned mistress - proves the guilt of a brutal murderer. Spurned by the girl, the murderer killed her and stuffed her in a hollow log ... (PB)
Elderly Melbourne gentleman, Mr Sefton, meets a beautiful young girl in black at Melbourne cemetery and learns from her of the mother she hates who gives lessons in dying for short periods. The girl loves a nearby mourner but he together with Sefton espouses her mother as a trickster and a thief - she kills herself at a true mother's grave. (PB)
A faithful servant implores a neighbour's intervention in the estrangement between her master and his married daughter. The disappearance of the girl's husband is found to be murder and she - who had been physically abused by him - is suspected. Only the servant's confession of her own part as murderer and her suicide restores father/daughter communication. (PB)
Domestic tragedy in rural setting. On the morning after she announces her engagement Agatha Rainsbury is found poisoned in her room. Suspicion points to her step-father who uses poison on his pansies and to his daughter Lola who would inherit the property after Agatha's death that her mother left solely to her. But the stepfather had confessed to Agatha the existence of a bastard son in a nearby town and she visited him and his mother that day, telling them the property was hers. Revenge is out ... (PB)
Holidays in Hobart introduce Sinclair and an old detective friend to the mystery of Mr Conyer's vanished fortune. A greedy vulgar daughter-in-law, a widow, claims it for her son but a faithful old man-servant and a friend proves her son illegitimate as she was already married to a Melbourne criminal when she married the son ... The sailor revives and claims his inheritance. (PB)
The death of a miser in a small town stirs up the trooper to demand an inquest. A rollicking young man's flirting with the maid of the miser's daughter, the eminent local doctor's eagerness to avoid an inquest, the drugging of the trooper and the theft of the old man's gold and his corpse reveal greed and vivisection. (PB)
Set around Cup Day, a Sydney detective and Mark Sinclair team up to find a foreign thief, Zerlecki. A foreign countess and her two companions seem able to help - but their cowardly butler, a mad maidservant and a snappy terrier unmask the murder and impersonation carried out in the house - finding Zerlecki too. (PB)