THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE SEVEN KINGS. London, New York and Melbourne, Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, 1899. Octavo, pp. [i-vi] vii viii 9-373 [374: blank] 1-10: ads, 16 inserted plates with illustrations by Sidney Paget, original pictorial bevel-edged blue cloth, front and spine panels stamped in gold, all edges untrimmed. First edition. Series of linked sensational crime stories first published in THE STRAND MAGAZINE, January-October 1898 featuring Madame Koluchy, a Moriarty-like master criminal who is incredibly beautiful, intelligent and charming, and who commits extortion, blackmail and murder employing "an arsenal of scientific techniques and devices that are occasionally over the border into science-fiction." - Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Early Years 1469. A "historic volume [which] contains the first series of stories about a female criminal." - Steinbrunner and Penzler (eds), Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, p. 284. "On the very heels of Raffles, the gentleman crook, came Madame Koluchy, the lady crook. Her grand entrance in THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE SEVEN KINGS (1899) marks the earliest appearance of a female felon in a series of short stories. In ten connected tales Madame Koluchy, as the guiding genius of a sinister secret society, as 'the brain that had conceived and the body that had executed some of the most malignant designs against mankind that the history of the world has ever known,' proves herself 'the compleat criminal': kidnapper, blackmailer, bank robber, and murderer -- although it should be noted that Madame Koluchy's attempts at murder were consistently foiled by a young scientist-detective named Norman Head." - QQ 27. Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK, p. 114. Bleiler (1978), p. 137. Glover and Greene, Victorian Detective Fiction, p. 88. Queen, The Detective Short Story, p. 74. Hubin (1994), p. 566. Not in Reginald (1979; 1992). Previous owner's name and date in ink on the front free endpaper. Cloth rubbed at edges and corners, lower spine end a little frayed, some rubbing to rear cover, inner hinges starting, endpapers age-darkened, mild foxing throughout, a very good copy with bright cover stamping. A scarce book. (#137123).