A man is forbidden to uncover the secret of the tower in a fairy-tale castle by the Rhine. A headless corpse is found in a secret garden in Paris – belonging to the city’s chief of police. And a drowned man is fished from the sea off the Italian Riviera, leaving the carabinieri to wonder why his socialite friends at the Villa Almirante are so unconcerned by his death.
These are three of the scenarios in this new collection of vintage crime stories compiled by Martin Edwards. Detective stories from the golden age and beyond have used European settings – cosmopolitan cities, rural idylls and crumbling chateaux – to explore timeless themes of revenge, deception and haunting. Including lesser-known stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, and J. Jefferson Farjeon – and over a dozen other classic writers – this collection reveals many hidden gems of British crime.
Yet again the British Library and Martin Edwards have produced another wonderful short story anthology – this time the theme is crime in Europe. And for the first time a forgotten Agatha Christie tale is included, so of course I had to read that little treat first! ‘Have You Got Everything You Want?’ features the lesser known Parker Pyne, he is more an emotional problem solver than a detective, but he always solves the case.
“Are you happy? If not, consult Mr Parker Pyne.”
There are some real gems in this collection, we see the revenge of a jilted lover, a jewellery con, a particularly gruesome discovery in the garden of a French country house, a castle tower with a secret and a murder plot that back fires.
“If you are living with anyone, for instance, it must be the easiest thing in the world to murder them”
There is one particular tale that chilled me to the bone ‘The Long Dinner’ by H.C Bailey. But I won’t say any more about it for fear of spoiling the story for other readers. I also thoroughly enjoyed ‘Popeau Intervenes’ by Marie Belloc Lowndes. Could Hercules Popeau be the inspiration behind Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot?? We will never know but it’s certainly fun to spot the similarities in Lowndes story!
“What would each of them have felt had it suddenly been revealed that their every word had been overheard, and each passionate gesture of love witnessed, by an invisible listener and watcher?”
A great collection of stories that is a celebration of crime in foreign climes. A selection of perfectly sized mystery treats that will provide an antidote to our British summer. Enjoyable, readable and delightful.
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.
‘Continental Crimes’ is out in paperback on the 10th of July published by The British Library. With thanks to Abbie at the British Library for my copy.
If you like the sound of ‘Continental Crimes’ then you’ll like these too:
‘Resorting to Murder’ edited by Martin Edwards
‘Serpents in Eden’ edited by Martin Edwards
‘Murder On The Links’ by Agatha Christie