Thursday, February 26, 2015

The World's Best 100 Detective Stories Vol. 1

The World's Best 100 Detective Stories (1929) edited by Eugene Thwing is a ten-volume set made up of ten short stories per set. And this is the first volume. As Thwing says in his introduction, picking the 100 best stories even in the early years of the mystery field was no easy job. It's easier to just select personal favorites--but one really needs to select a wide variety of popular favorites to meet the tastes of more readers. Of course, no matter what an editor does, he will still not pick everyone's favorite and be able to make everyone happy.

Personally, I think Thwing did an excellent job. For the most part, these are authors that I was not  familiar with--I had certainly heard of H.C. Bailey and Edgar Jepson, but had not read anything by them prior to this collection and had read very little of Robert Eustace and Mrs. Belloc Lowndes. Everyone else was a new acquaintance and I was very pleased to meet them. I don't know if Thwing did it on purpose (he doesn't mention it if he did), but there is a bit of a revenge theme running through most of these stories and it was interesting to see how each author works their method of revenge. A good collection and I look forward to reading stories in the other volumes. ★★★★

Here is a brief synopsis of each story:

"The One Best Bet" by Samuel Hopkins Adams: Mr. Average Jones, ace investigative reporter, has all the skills necessary to get to the bottom of a fiendish plot to kill the Governor.

"The Little House" by H. C. Bailey: Reggie Fortune decides to look into the case of the lost Persian kitten--a "crime" too small to interest the police--and discovers a dreadful world of dope and revenge.

"The Hermit Crab" by Bailey: Reggie returns and investigates malicious mailings to one Miss Platt Robinson. But it isn't until the poison pen sends her a hermit crab that Reggie is able to find those responsible.

"The Sting of the Wasp" by Richard Connell: When his rival and vowed enemy Lewis Cope is found dead, apparently shot with his gun, all evidence points to Guy Oakley. But, after examining the scene of the crime and hearing Oakley's version of the night in question, Matthew Kelton thinks he's innocent. A wasp sting convinces Kelton that he's right.

"Mirage" by Sinclair Gluck: A rich young American girl sees what she wants to see in the attentions of a Frenchman. Captain Dufreyne is able to look beyond the mirage to the reality behind.

"The Tea-Leaf" by Edgar Jepson & Robert Eustace: In which the daughter of a disagreeable man proves her ex-fiancé innocent of her father's murder--through the evidence of a tea-leaf and the help of a dream.

"The Services of an Expert" by Harry Stephen Keeler: A clever turn-about story on the usual cop and burglar tale.

"Popeau Intervenes" by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes: Hercules Popeau, retired from the French Police, prevents the murder of a lovely Englishwoman.

"The Poacher" by Sidney Gowing: Commander Robert "Bolo" Venables of the Royal Navy tells a whopper of a fish story--that just happens to be true.

"The Tinkle of the Bells" by Anthony Wynne: Dr. Hailey, expert in diseases of the mind, is called upon by a racehorse owner to determine what has caused The Wizard (as his colt is called) to become deathly afraid.  

This, as you might expect, fulfills the "Short Story" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

I do love collections of short stories! Sounds good!
Great review!