“A Clever Little Woman,” by the author of “Nick Carter.” Nick Carter. First published in the New York Weekly, 24 November 1894. (Real author unknown.) Reprinted in The Great American Detective, edited by William Kittredge & Steven M. Krauzer (Mentor, paperback original, October 1978).

   Of all the dime novels and other fictional exploits of Nick Carter (“Master Detective”) it is unclear why the editors of The Great American Detective chose this one to lead off their anthology of … guess what? Stories about great American detectives. But it’s not bad and in fact, it’s quite readable and only slightly stilted and not at all as fusty as you might expect a non-literary piece of fiction written in 1894 might be.

   Nick is hired to learn who forged a check purported to have been signed by an old man with heart trouble. Only indeed by accident and happenstance was the deed discovered. Filling Nick Carter in on the details is the daughter of a distant relative from upstate New York who is currently living with the family, a bright young lady who has brought a good deal of recent cheer to the household.

   Only someone with uninterrupted access to Mr. Brandon’s checkbook could have forged the check, so all of the recent callers to the house must be investigated. Nick Carter does a good job of it, but today’s readers will know who the guilty party at once. (I assuming that those of you reading this are as good a detective in these matter as I am, which is a very low bar to hurdle, I assure you.)