20 October 2016

Review: SERPENTS IN EDEN: Countryside Crimes, Martin Edwards (edit)

  • this edition published in 2016 by the British Library
  • A British Library Crime Classic
  • ISBN 978-0-7123-5794-4
  • 302 pages
  • content: 13 Vintage crime fiction short stories 
Synopsis  (Amazon UK)

The lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.... Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Sherlock Holmes Many of the greatest British crime writers have explored the possibilities of crime in the countryside in lively and ingenious short stories. Serpents in Eden celebrates the rural British mystery by bringing together an eclectic mix of crime stories written over half a century. From a tale of poison-pen letters tearing apart a village community to a macabre mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle, the stories collected here reveal the dark truths hidden in an assortment of rural paradises. Among the writers included here are such major figures as G. K. Chesterton and Margery Allingham, along with a host of lesser-known discoveries whose best stories are among the unsung riches of the golden age of British crime fiction between the two wars.

My Take

These short stories were almost all published prior to 1960, The Black Doctor by Arthur Conan Doyle as early as 1898. The authors are almost all recognised Golden Age crime fiction writers. One or two of the stories have not been easily available until their publication in this anthology. Nearly all of the writers have a connection with the Detection Club.

While some of the stories had very clever plots indeed, I found some of them rather slow and tortuous. Nearly all were "different" to what a modern short story might be like. Each story is preceded by an introduction written by Martin Edwards placing the writer in the history of British crime fiction writing.

The writers: Arthur Conan Doyle, M. McDonnell Bodkin, G.K. Chesterton, E.C. Bentley, Herbert Jenkins, H.C. Bailey, R. Austin Freeman, Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley, Leonora Wodehouse, Ethel Lena White, Leo Bruce, and Gladys Mitchell.
My rating: 4.3

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Sounds like it might be worth checking out, as I do enjoy many of the older authors.


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