Originally Published in 1882
Author: Edward L. Wheeler
Curator: Cristiana Wilcoxon
Artist: James F. Lorigan
Originally published in 1882, Denver Doll is the first American female detective novel. In this Western mystery, the sleuth Denver Doll and her gang—Walt, Yakie, and Chug—search for a kidnapped child and her murdered mother in the prosperous mining town of Shining Bar, where the whisky runs strong and no one is quite who they seem. While the handsome scrapper Yankee Eisler seeks vengeance for his lost family and the roguish highwayman John McParland terrorizes the town’s inhabitants, Doll must gamble and gender-bend her way to truth. If she fails, a huge fortune, the child’s life, and the very fate of Shining Bar itself are at stake.
Before comics, pulp magazines, and television shows, 19th-century working-class America relied on dime novels to break the monotony of daily life. Spurred by accelerated printing processes, efficient rail shipping, and growing literacy rates, dime novels catering to fans of urban outlaws, detectives, working-girl heroines and romantic heroes were sold at newsstands and dry goods stores across the country.
Proceeds from our classic dime novels support 1888 education and literacy programs designed to engage readers, support writers, and inspire a cultural legacy for future generations.