Most historians will argue the honor belongs to Wilkie Collins, who published a novel entitled “The Moonstone” in 1868. There is also an argument to be made that Émile Gaboriau and his Monsieur Lecoq, who made his first appearance a few years earlier in “L’Affaire Lerouge,” was the first, though Arthur Conan Doyle later had Sherlock Holmes declare Lecoq “a miserable bungler.”
“In 1975, however, the novelist and critic Julian Symons revealed in The Times of London a veritable hidden panel in the library of detective literature: a third novel that predates them both. It was “The Notting Hill Mystery,” an anonymous eight-part serial that ran in Once a Week magazine starting on Nov. 29, 1862. But the book itself presented something of a mystery.”
After tremendous research, Collins discovered and concluded “The Notting Hill Mystery” was written by a man named Charles Warren Adams, one of the publishers of the periodical. Even though he used a pseudonym, Collins claims Notting Hill has all the ingredients of a modern murder mystery, and deserves the credit as the very first of its kind.