22 November 2008

Review: MYSTERIOUS PLEASURES, Martin Edwards (edit)

Time Warner paperback, 2004, ISBN 0-7515-3692-X, 496 pages

Published in 2003, this book is a celebration of 50 years of the Crime Writers Association (the people who give the Daggers out).
All the writers, 23 of them, are either foundation members of CWA, past presidents, or award winners.

The writers featured: Margery Allingham, Eric Ambler, Robert Barnard, Leslie Charteris, John Creasey, Lionel Davidson, Lindsey Davis, Colin Dexter, Dick Francis, Antonia Fraser, Michael Gilbert, Cyril Hare,
Reginald Hill, H.R.F. Keating, Peter Lovesey, Ed McBain, Val McDermid, Sara Paretsky, Ellis Peters, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Julian Symons, and Margaret Yorke.

It's hard to pick a favourite because they are such a varied bunch.
In One Morning They'll Hang Him by Margery Allingham, Albert Campion prevents a miscarriage of justice when the police inspector assumes the wrong person has committed the murder.
Robert Barnard's Everybody's Girl is a chilling tale of a young woman who is an immoral and fiendish manipulator.
Leslie Charteris in the Mystery of the Child's Toy describes how unscrupulous businessmen provoke suicide.
The Chief Witness in John Creasey's tale is only six years old, but his evidence is spontaneous and irrefutable.

I think the most amusing one has to be Something Spooky on Geophys by Lindsey Davis. It will appeal to anyone who watches Time Team. An archaeological team making a TV programme are excavating a site in 5 days, watched from the castle ramparts by 3 ghosts. The team finds a Roman skeleton and then a much more recent one. Davis' sleuth, Marcus Didius Falco makes an appearance.

In The Double Crossing Colin Dexter has written a spoof on his own popular Morse and Lewis series.
Peter Lovesey's The Man Who Jumped for England is a play on the word jumped, while Margaret Yorke does something similar with Mugs.
I had read Ruth Rendell's When the Wedding Was Over before (or maybe I saw it dramatised in the Wexford TV series). Mike Burden gets married and Wexford agrees to read the manuscript for a "real crime" book which purports to prove a miscarriage of justice nine decades before when a young wife was hanged for poisoning her husband.

I was disappointed that there wasn't a story written by Martin Edwards though...
Each of the stories is fairly short and I think that heightens the enjoyment.
Between the collection gives a good indication of each writer's style and also changes in the crime fiction short story genre over the period of five decades.

My rating: 4.4


Louise said...

Seems like an interesting read and a good way to get to know some of those writes whose names I know so well but whom I have never read. I have read some Ruth Rendell and others, but never really got into the Lindsay Davies-ones. But I hear they are really good. Thanks for an interesting review.

Kerrie said...

It was very readable. I have not been reading much in the way of short stories recently but this has re-kindled my interest.


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