This is an absolutely breathtaking collection of twenty-nine thrillers from Louisa May Alcott. Each story that I read kept me up until the wee hours of the morning because they were so good! And after I was done reading them, I was still thinking about them for days on end. Powerful women, betrayal, wards/guardians, romance, murder... each plays a delectable part in these brilliant novellettes. You have the masterfully manipulative Jean Muir in the famous story "Behind a Mask: Or a Woman's Power", the admirable villain in "A Nurse's Story", the wonderful Russian/Parisian love story of "Taming a Tartar", the heroic villainess in "The Mysterious Key, and What it Opened", an exquisite character study in "A Marble Woman: or, The Mysterious Model", dark tragedy and hints of incest in "A Whisper in the Dark", and the shockingly villainous hero in "La Jeune; or Actress and Woman" or "A Laugh and A Look". Then there is the delightfully frustrating "My Mysterious Mademoiselle", in which the protagonist is thwarted rather severely in his love interest. Love has a main role in almost all of these stories; usually emphasizing the power balance between the sexes. Alcott has a way of standing things on their heads, and is a master of the surprise ending.
Worth every minute, worth every dollar, this collection includes all of the known thrillers of Alcott, as well as a remarkably throrough and informative introduction by Madeleine Stern.