Thursday, February 11, 2016

Martin Edwards (ed.), Resorting to Murder

Martin Edwards (ed), Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries
British Library Crime Classics/Poisoned Pen Press, 2015

Martin Edwards has done mystery readers a great service by shepherding into print both short fiction and novels (from the 1920s through the 1950s) from both well-known and largely forgotten authors.  This collection of 14 stories includes pieces by Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K, Chesterton, R. Austin Freemen, H.C. Bailey, Anthony Berkeley, Leo Bruce, and Michael Gilbert  (among the better-known authors) and introduces (or re-introduces) us to E.W. Hornung, Arnold Bennett, M. McDonnell Bodkin (which seems a highly unlikely name to me, but he was a real person), Basil Thomson, Helen Simpson, Phyllis Bentley, and Gerald Findler.

In any collection like this, the stories vary widely in quality, but all of them are worth reading.  Some of them rely a bit to heavily on flashes of unmotivated intuition, others don’t always provide the reader with all the information that might be expected.  A couple of the stories are more-or-less shaggy-dog stories of one sort or another. 

My personal favorites are the Reggie Fortune story (“The Hazel Ice”), by Bailey and “Holiday Task,” by Bruce (even though the solution is pretty obvious; it features Sergeant Beef).

I have one quibble with the presentation:  It’s difficult to determine original publication information (outlet, date) for the stories; it is not provided for most of the stories (appearing in the introductions to the stories by Thomson, Berkeley, Bentley, and Findler, and even in those cases the date of publication is generally omitted).  Although that information is not necessary in order to enjoy the stories, it would be useful for someone who is interested in how the stories fit into the other works being published at around the same time.

I certainly do not regret having bought it, and am glad to have read these stories.

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