Saturday, August 26, 2023

The World's Best One Hundred Detective Stories Vol. 3

 The World's Best One Hundred Detective Stories Vol. 3 (1929) by Eugene Thwing (ed)

This volume is part of a ten-volume set made up of ten short stories per set. This is the fifth volume of the set that I have sampled. 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. And this is the third volume that hasn't made this reader very happy. They may have been popular favorites of the 1920s, but these are not very strong selections--especially the stories by Melville Davisson Post which open the book. The best of the bunch are the final two: "The Un-Punctual Painting" and "The White Line," neither of which involve murder. I can only hope that the rest of the collection is better.  

"Naboth's Vineyard" by Melville Davisson Post: Uncle Abner sets out to prove that a man accused of shooting his employer is innocent. But will he implicate the woman that man loves? (two shot)

"The Problem of the Five Marks" by Post: A story of an innocent abroad. Our narrator, not a man of the world, is sent to France ostensibly to help wrap up the mystery of his great-aunt's death. But he finds himself involved in an adventure with a cryptic clue and a missing pearl necklace. (one natural)

"The Inspiration" by Post: Walker, an American Secret Service Agent, is asked to help get a lovely young girl out of the clutches of her guardian. The young man who loves the girl is certain that the guardian means her no good.... (one frozen to death)

"The Phantom Woman" by Post: Sir Henry Marquis of Scotland Yard aids a young woman in the effort to retrieve her mother's priceless bracelets from the clutches of her stepmother's husband. (one natural)

"The New Administration" by Post: Justices from a very Supreme Court indeed intervene in the trial of a young man about to be sentenced for defrauding his employer. The case is much more complex than the circuit court thought.... (one natural)

"The Pigeon on the Sill" by Herman Landon: Things look bad when a man is released from prison and his uncle, upon whom he vowed revenge, is found shot to death. The truth of the matter rests on a missing cockatoo...and the pigeon on the sill. (one shot)

"The Greuze Girl" by Freeman Wills Crofts: An apparent art swindle leads to a crime of a different sort...

"The House of Many Mansions" by Frederick Irving Anderson: An exclusive apartment complex with its very own gold-plated dining experience houses a den of thieves...and a wily detective who plans on nabbing every one of them.

"The Un-Punctual Painting" by Bertram Atkey: Mr. Bunn & Colonel Fortworth find a kidnapped boy using the clue of the painting that was an hour late...according to the boot-black boy.

"The White Line" by John Ferguson: Two men are making the running for a young heiress's hand aboard a cross-Atlantic liner...everyone on board is placing bets on which will be victorious. The underdog seems to have the upper hand but then one of them is implicated in the theft of the lady's priceless necklace.

First line (1st story): One hears a good deal about the sovereignty of the people in this republic; and many persons imagine it a sort of fiction, and wonder where it lies, who are the guardians of it, and how they would exercise it if the forms and agents of the law were removed.

Last line (Last story): The words in themselves might have committed her to nothing, but there was that in her tones which led every man who heard them to settle his bet without a murmur.


Chris Wallace said...

I have the set in green! Some stories are great and some are just awful but I enjoyed reading them.

Bev Hankins said...

Chris: Yes, some of those stories are pretty dire. But it is a nice little collection. I have one of the book (Vol. 10, I think) in green. Haven't been able to find all in red yet.