Locked-room mysteries and other impossible crime stories have been relished by puzzle-lovers ever since the invention of detective fiction. Fiendishly intricate cases were particularly well suited to the cerebral type of detective story that became so popular during the ‘golden age of murder’ between the two world wars. But the tradition goes back to the days of Wilkie Collins, and impossible crime stories have been written by such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. This anthology celebrates their work, alongside long-hidden gems by less familiar writers. Together these stories demonstrate the range and high accomplishment of the classic British impossible crime story over more than half a century.
“There was, in the entire aspect of the room, something very grim and dreadful”
Locked room mysteries have entertained and baffled readers for years. So when the British Library announced an anthology of impossible crimes and locked room mysteries I clapped my mystery loving hands together with glee! Once again Martin Edwards has compiled a superb selection of tales that, once forgotten, epitomise the tag of ‘impossible crime’.
I enjoyed the whole anthology but there were a couple of stand out stories for me. I was particularly fond of Morris Klaw in ‘The Case of the Tragedies in the Greek Room’. A psychic detective who’s unique approach and mannerisms reminded me of a certain Belgian detective.
“He wore an archaic brown bowler, smart, gold-rimmed pince-nez and a black silk muffler. A long, black cloak completely enveloped the stooping figure”
The story of criminal genius X.K in ‘Death at 8.30’ was highly entertaining! A blackmailer who doesn’t like to be refused and who manages to kill a man securely guarded in a bank vault “Gifted X.K certainly was.”
And there is a wonderful treat from Arthur Conan Doyle that sees a train, carriages and passengers completely vanish in ‘The Lost Special’. This is another great addition to the British Library Crime Classics anthologies and it’s a celebration of the great crime writing of the Golden Age of Crime. The most perfect read to enjoy curled up with a cuppa and a chocolate treat!
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 4/5 STARS
Or rather the editor, Martin Edwards is an award-winning crime writer best known for two series of crime novels set in Liverpool and the Lake District. He is series consultant for the British Library Crime Classics and editor of six previous anthologies in the series as well as being Vice Chair of the Crime Writers Association and President of the Detection Club. The Golden Age of Murder, his study of the detection club has won several awards.
‘Miraculous Mysteries’ is out on the 10th April in paperback. With thanks to Maria at The British Library for my copy.
If you like ‘Miraculous Mysteries’ then why not try:
‘Continental Crimes’ edited by Martin Edwards (out in June)
‘Murder At The Manor’ edited by Martin Edwards
‘Serpents In Eden’ edited by Martin Edwards
‘Lord Edgware Dies’ by Agatha Christie