Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (a.k.a. Violet Martin) were Irish cousins who co-wrote short stories and novels in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland. Their most popular and lucrative series, about an Irish Resident Magistrate (R.M.), is a comical account of Major Sinclair Yeates’s attempt to master the challenges of his Irish county seat. Yeates is routinely bested by a cast of local characters who show him up to be the naïf he is—and who demonstrate, in the process, the limits to British imperial hegemony in fin-de-siècle Ireland. Though scholars have recently taken up Somerville and Ross’s work, they have not understood the Irish R.M. stories as detective fiction: a recurrent and formulaic structure in which a “crime” is committed, the detective is charged with solving the mystery, and the precarity of the social order is revealed as a result. This chapter examines this pattern in one of the R.M. stories, “Trinket’s Colt,” and compares it with a contemporary Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze.” My readings emphasize the role of the horse in queering the project of colonial settlement and the power of “detection” as a lens for troubling empire history.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBritish Murder Mysteries, 1880-1965
Subtitle of host publicationFacts and Fictions
EditorsLaura E Nym Mayhall, Elizabeth Prevost
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031071591
ISBN (Print)9783031071584, 9783031071614
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Publication series

NameCrime Files
ISSN (Print)2947-8340
ISSN (Electronic)2947-8359


  • Colonial settlement
  • Queering empire
  • Sexual politics
  • Irish history


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