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gertrude

December 2017

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Two more British Library Crime Classics

resortingmurder

I’ve been able to read two more British Library Crime Classics, thanks to NetGalley.
Resorting to Murder is an anthology of short stories, edited by Martin Edwards, all with a holiday theme. Edwards writes:
Holidays offer us the luxury of getting away from it all. So, in a different way, do detective stories. Yet another means of enjoyable escapism involves taking a glance at the past, especially where it seems (if perhaps deceptively) to have been a simpler time than the present. Resorting to Murder is an anthology which combines these three forms of pleasuretaking. It presents vintage stories written over a span of roughly half a century, and which have the backdrop of a holiday. This straightforward unifying theme is counterpointed by the stories’ sheer diversity.

I had high hopes of this book because of the fame of some of the authors: Arthur Conan Doyle, E W Hornung, G K Chesterton, R Austin Freeman. As it turned out, none was particularly memorable. It may just be that I almost always find short stories disappointing. I do think they are worth reprinting, though, because of their scarcity. For instance, Razor Edge by Anthony Berkeley (a writer admired by Dorothy L Sayers), ‘seems to have escaped publication until 1994, when it appeared in The Roger Sheringham Stories, an edition limited to a mere 93 copies.’

sussexdownsmurder

John Bude’s The Sussex Downs Murder I really did enjoy; in fact I think it’s the best book I’ve read in the whole series so far, better than his The Cornish Coast Murder. I liked it partly for the topography, as it’s set in a part of the country I know well; I’ve lived for a while in both Littlehampton and Angmering-on-Sea. The map at the beginning of the book is full of familiar place names and I could really picture the settings. Superintendent Meredith finds himself baffled at first by a macabre murder with a couple of obvious suspects but no way of pinning the crime on them. I did guess part of the mystery but not the ‘how it was done’, so read the book quickly to get at the truth. Martin Edwards writes about the book, ‘the reappearance of The Sussex Downs Murder should help to secure his (Bude’s) reputation as one of traditional British crime fiction’s more accomplished craftsmen.’ True, I think, and more people will now read his books, which until now have been so hard to find.

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