The Stillwater Tragedy, first published in 1880, is set in a small New England manufacturing town whose tranquility is disturbed first by the murder of one of its prominent citizens followed soon thereafter by a general strike of all the trades-unions. As the story develops, Richard Shackford, the murdered man's nephew, finds himself inextricably caught up in both these events. (Summary from Librivox.org)
en a man is smitten inexplicably, as if by a bodiless hand stretched out of a cloud,--when the red slayer vanishes like a mist and leaves no faintest trace of his identity,--the mystery shrouding the deed presently becomes more appalling than the deed itself. There is something paralyzing in the thought of an invisible hand somewhere ready to strike at your life, or at some life dearer than your own. Whose hand, and where is it? Perhaps it passes you your coffee at breakfast; perhaps you have hired it to shovel the snow off your sidewalk; perhaps it has brushed against you in the crowd; or may be you have dropped a coin into the fearful palm at a street corner. Ah, the terrible unseen hand that stabs your imagination,--this immortal part of you which is a hundred times more sensitive than your poor perishable body!
In the midst of situations the most solemn and tragic there often falls a light purely farcical in its incongruity. Such a gleam was unconsciously projected upon the present crisis by Mr. Bo