The first ebook I have read this year (mainly on the train to and from work) was "Initials Only" by Anna Katharine Green.
A detective story first published in 1911, "Initials Only" deals with the case of beautiful young heiress Edith Challoner dropping dead in the writing room of a luxury hotel while nobody is near her, and no shot is heard and no bullet found in the deadly wound. Did she take her own life by stabbing herself through the heart with a paper knife, later found on the floor in the hotel lobby (but with no traces of blood on it)?
Her grieving father refuses to believe the coroner's verdict of suicide, and employs an investigator who is actually part of the police force but acts on his own for most of the time.
Among Miss Challoner's personal belongings are found letters signed with initials only, O.B. Who is O.B., and what - if anything - does he have to do with her death?
Sweetwater, the investigator, finds out the identity of O.B. pretty soon, but instead of answering the questions the case poses, he only brings up more mysteries.
In the end, though, the truth is revealed by the murderer himself, and we are left with a ray of hope for the grieving people left behind in possibly finding love and happiness again.
The wikipedia entry about Anna Katharine Green dubs her as "the mother of the detective novel", having created not only the series detective later made so famous by other authors, but also inventing the prototype for Miss Marple (nosy society spinster Amelia Butterworth), the girl detective (Violet Strange, a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth) and using legally accurate descriptions of police procedures and scientific methods employed in both the murders and their solvings.
Her first mystery novel, "The Leavenworth Case", was already a bestseller ten years before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle entered the stage with Sherlock Holmes. At one time, there was even doubt on whether her books could have really been written by a woman!
Green's life (1846 to 1935) was not quite average for her times; she seems to have been a rather unconventional lady with very much her own head on her shoulders. For instance, she married relatively late (at 38 years) and a man seven years her junior.
"Initials Only" held a few surprises for me, but none of its twists and turns was so illogical or incredible as to appear ridiculous. The language and descriptions of places and people very much reflect their times. I really enjoyed reading this mystery, and will maybe look for more (free) ebooks by the same author.