Series: British Library Crime Classics
Published by The British Library on April 1, 2015
Genres: Vintage Mystery, Anthology
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Holidays offer us the luxury of getting away from it all. So, in a different way, do detective stories. This collection of vintage mysteries combines both those pleasures. From a golf course at the English seaside to a pension in Paris, and from a Swiss mountain resort to the cliffs of Normandy, this new selection shows the enjoyable and unexpected ways in which crime writers have used summer holidays as a theme.
These fourteen stories range widely across the golden age of British crime fiction. Stellar names from the past are well represented Arthur Conan Doyle and G. K. Chesterton, for instance with classic stories that have won acclaim over the decades. The collection also uncovers a wide range of hidden gems: Anthony Berkeley whose brilliance with plot had even Agatha Christie in raptures is represented by a story so (undeservedly) obscure that even the British Library does not own a copy. The stories by Phyllis Bentley and Helen Simpson are almost equally rare, despite the success which both writers achieved, while those by H. C. Bailey, Leo Bruce and the little-known Gerald Findler have seldom been reprinted.
Each story is introduced by the editor, Martin Edwards, who sheds light on the authors' lives and the background to their writing.
So, who else is dreaming of vacations right about now? This collection of British mystery short stories centers around vacations/holidays. Our detectives are supposed to be enjoying themselves, but are of course drawn into solving whatever crime has occurred, most often a murder.
Like any anthology, some stand out above others. A few of my favorites:
“The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot” by Arthur Conan Doyle is one I’ve read before. A woman is found dead and two of her brothers are completely insane. I always enjoy Holmes and this one is not an exception.
“The Hazel Ice” by H.C. Bailey – Reggie Fortune is Bailey’s series detective. This time, he’s in Switzerland and ends up investigating the death of a fellow tourist. This was really enjoyable. I should search out more of the Fortune stories.
“Holiday Task” by Leo Bruce – Sergeant Beef is on vacation in Normandy when “the most detected man in the French prison service” is killed in a suspicious car crash. At first, suicide is suspected, but of course Beef discovers it was actually murder and figures out the who and how.
“The House of Screams” by Gerald Findler – This seems like a ghost story. A man leases a house and hears screams in the night. The explanation of the mystery and the ghostly noises is one I’ll remember.
Altogether, there are 14 stories, most by authors I haven’t read before. It was a fun read.