Fergus Hume (1859-1932) Ferguson Wright Hume was born in England. At the age of three his father emigrated with his family to New Zealand. He attended high school in Dunedin and studied law at the University of Otago. Shortly after graduation he left for Melbourne where he obtained a post as a barrister's clerk. After failed attempts to become a playwright, he decided to write a novel instead. Not knowing what to write: "I enquired of a leading Melbourne bookseller what style of book he sold most of He replied that the detective stories of Gaboriau had a large sale; and as, at this time, I had never even heard of this author, I bought all his works - eleven or thereabouts - and read them carefully. The style of these stories attracted me, and I determined to write a book of the same class; containing a mystery, a murder, and a description of low life in Melbourne." The result was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which became a great success after he self-published. After the success of his first novel, Hume returned to England. He resided in London for few years and then he moved to the Essex countryside where he lived in Thundersley for thirty years.
Arthur Vernon, member of the Athenian club and member of “society,” has a secret. His father has died and left him destitute, so he has begun a private investigation agency under the name “Nemo.” It would be disastrous if this were known among his associates at the club, and especially if his intended in-laws found out. But he is quite sure no one else knows, that is until his old college classmate, Constantine Maunders, visits him with a proposition he can’t refuse. Maunders knows all, and he wants to be made a partner in the agency, providing “Nemo” with black-mail worthy information on other people in society in return for a share of the financial rewards for their silence. Vernon is appalled, particularly as “Nemo” is engaged in solving a high profile blackmail case. These are the beginning of Vernons conundrums as the clues unfold. - Summary by Don W. Jenkins