Monday, May 13, 2024

Bodies from the Library 4

 Bodies from the Library 4
(2021) by Tony Medawar (ed)

Another fine collection of little known, rarely (if ever) collection, sometimes unpublished stories by Golden Age detective novelists. Medawar has tracked down stories that appeared in newspapers, magazines, and long out-of-print anthologies. Also radio plays that were never aired or aired long ago, and a few unpublished works discovered among the author's things after death. We have whodunits, whydunits, and howdunits. Stories of murder and thievery and a closed circle mystery where it seems the detective may not get his man (or woman) because the circle has closed so effectively against the law. There is a little something for everyone who loves classic crime.

My favorites of the collection are "The Police Are Baffled," "Shadowed Sunlight," "After You, Lady," and "Signals." These have quite nice little twists to them that made them very interesting. The Lorac story is also good--but a bit short. I found "Child's Play" to be a little more brutal than Crispin's usual fare (particularly given the young victim) and "The Only Husband" by Bailey really didn't catch my fancy. I generally have enjoyed the Reggie Fortune short stories that I've read, but Reggie's conversation in this one leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, a strong outing. ★★

"Child's Play" by Edmund Crispin (Bruce Montgomery): A dark story about a governess who notices that three of the children in the house aren't the innocents you'd expect. And when their orphaned cousin dies, she suspects foul play instead of child's play. [3 deaths]

"Thieves Fall In" by Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Malleson): Three people on a bus bound for London. There is a theft and a surprise in store for the thief.

"Rigor Mortis" by Leo Bruce (Rupert Croft-Cooke): Sergeant Beef teaches a Scotland Yard man a thing or two about the importance of paying attention to people instead of fiddling little details like the state of rigor mortis.[one death]

"The Only Husband" by H. C. Bailey: Lord Avalon calls up Reggie Fortune to ask for help with a "family matter." But Reggie arrives too late to prevent his death--he'll have to settle for justice. [2 deaths]

"The Police Are Baffled" by Alec Waugh: A tale of two murders--in which the killers outwit the police using a device that another detective novelist would make even more famous. [2 deaths]

"Shadowed Sunlight" by Christianna Brand (Mary Milne): Involves a charity ball where a valuable emerald is stolen and a boat race with a murder. [2 deaths]

"The Case of Bella Garsington" by Gladys Mitchell: Caratet is a prosecuting attorney in this short radio play. He questions the daughter-in-law of a murdered man and uses her own words to prove her guilt. [one death]

"The Post-Chaise Murder" by Richard Keverne: Sir Christopher "Kit" Hazzard investigates what is first taken to be a simple case of highway robbery gone wrong. But there is a deeper reason for the man's death in the post-chaise.[one death]

"Boots" by Ngaio Marsh: A man confesses to stabbing his wife, but his friend produces testimony that seems to clear him. Inspector Alleyn must decide if it really does.[one death]

"Figures Don't Die" by T. S. Stribling: Dr. Poggioli figures out who is responsible for the death of an accountant--but there is no proof. Justice is served up anyway.... [2 deaths]

"Passengers" by Ethel Lina White: The short story that let to The Wheel Spins which led to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. When a young woman insists that an older woman has disappeared from a train, her fellow passengers and the train authorities all treat her like she's crazy and insist the woman never existed.

"After You, Lady" by Peter Cheyney: A mob boss thinks he's come up with the perfect plan to get rid of a returning rival. After all, who would dare to interfere with him? Well.... [one death]

"Too Easy" by Herbert Adams: When a man is poisoned, all evidence points to his secretary. But she insists she's innocent. Will the police arrest the right person? [one death]

"Riddle of an Umbrella" by J. Jefferson Farjeon: An umbrella leaned against a train signal leads an inquisitive young man to a hat in the middle of the tracks which leads him to a dead body.He then finds a second dead body...what exactly happened in the signalman's hut that night?

"Two White Mice Under a Riding Whip" by E. C. R. Lorac (Edith Caroline Rivett): The solution to the kidnapping of a young boy lies in the titular image given by the boy's mother to a psychologist sent to discover the cause of her inability to speak or walk. It takes Remaine, the barrister, to figure out what it means.

"Signals" by Alice Campbell: A barrister is passing an inn one night when he notices an odd thing--a woman's silk stocking dangling from the pub sign. Curious, he goes in and finds a scantily clad woman being accused of murdering another of the inn's customers. Determined to see fair play, he proves that the woman couldn't be responsible, could she? [one death]

"A Present from the Empire" by G. D. H. & M. Cole: Lady Bowland hates going to the annual dinner for the "Malaria empire-builders." Not only is it boring as anything, but she doesn't care to be reminded of Malaria. This year she finds an old acquaintance seated on her right at dinner....part of what she doesn't want to remember about Malaria. But what will be the outcome of this chance encounter? [two deaths]

First line (1st story): "And of course," said Mrs. Snyder, "you'll have to make allowances for Pamela, at first."

Last line (last story): "It is just a complete mystery."

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