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At the beginning of this book a young slave woman, fearing for her infant son's life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master's. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertaining, funny, yet biting novels. On its surface, this book possesses all the elements of an engrossing nineteenth-century mystery reversed identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution. Yet it is not a mystery novel. Seething with the undercurrents of antebelium southern culture, this book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes.