Twelve English Detective Stories

Twelve English Detective Stories, by Michael Cox, was quite a refreshing read–I never realize how much I miss mysteries until I pick one up again (or in this case, twelve). Apparently Oxford put out a series of this type, with other volumes centered around American and Female Detectives. I enjoyed the taste of what detecting trends were like around the turn of the century, when the emphasis was on deduction rather than character. Also, I was introduced to several new authors!

“The Adventures of the Stockbroker’s Clerk,” by A. Conan Doyle (In which Sherlock is as smart as the titular clerk is oblivious–really, even I could spot the solution here.)

“The Lenton Croft Robberies,” by Arthur Morrison (Martin Hewitt investigates said robberies.)

“The Green Stone God and the Stockbroker,” by Fergus Hume (An unsuspected murderer is brought to justice.)

“The Blue Sequin,” by R. Austin Freeman (John Thorndyke provides a solution that is not at all expected, yet at the same time makes you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it. This was the reason I found the book, as Melody at Redeeming Qualities praised him and the library had none of his novels.)

“The Strange Crime of John Boulnois,” by G.K. Chesterton (Father Brown packs on the guilt when confronting a murderer. I always find that priestly procedurals have a slightly more peaceful/philosophic tone than many other detective stories, for some reason.)

“Who Killed Charlie Winpole?” by Ernest Bramah (More of a chance to show off Max Carrados’ investigative skills than an actual crime, but made interesting because he is also blind.)

“The Poetical Policeman,” by Edgar Wallace (J. G. Reeder’s attention to detail in both circumstance and character gets the job done.)

“The Man With No Face,” by Dorothy L. Sayers (The open ending of this perhaps mystery leaves readers wondering whether the police force’s facts or Lord Peter Wimsey’s feelings provide the correct solution, but it works. Apparently I’ve been neglecting a great detective.)

“The Yellow Slugs,” by H. C. Bailey (Though well done, it left a bad taste in my mouth; I don’t like stories where children have been psychologically damaged. To his credit, though, Reggie Fortune does his best to help the kids recuperate.)

“The Unknown Peer,” by E.C. Bentley (Philip Trent solves a case of an incognito corpse.)

“Lesson in Anatomy,” by Michael Innes (John Appleby investigates a demonstration gone awry, but the premise is more intersting than the solution.)

“The Plan,” by Julian Symons (Black comedy as an actor plots to do his wife in.)

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Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 10:32 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. If that was the first Peter Wimsey story you’ve read, you’ve definitely been neglecting a great detective. Dorothy Sayers is one of my all time favorite mystery writers.

    G.K. Chesterton is also wonderful, and the Father Brown stories are some of his best work. My favorite is “The Sign of the Broken Sword”, which is a little spookly and kind of heart-wrenching. But I would recommend reading the first three stories in The Innocence of Father Brown first. You can find them (and lots more) here.

    • Thanks for the link! I love reading short detective stories, so I’ll have to check these out.

      I’m almost ashamed to admit my inexperience with classic mysteries, even Agatha Christie, though it’s probably my favorite genre. I think we own most of the Dorothy Sayers so I should start mixing them in with my normal fare.


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