Victorian Tales of Mystery and Detection: An Oxford Anthology

Michael Cox, Editor
Michael Cox, Editor Oxford University Press, USA $25 (608p) ISBN 978-0-19-212308-4
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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The editor of Victorian Ghost Stories returns with an inviting collection of 31 stories by 30 writers (two stories are by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) that provides an enthralling overview of the mystery/detective tale from 1845 to 1904. In an incisive introduction, Cox engagingly sketches the historical background. The volume proper opens, appropriately enough, with Edgar Allan Poe's seminal ``The Purloined Letter,'' and proceeds chronologically. In E. and H. Heron's ``The Story of the Spaniards, Hammersmith,'' the typical dark and stormy night precedes mysterious tapping in an ``intensely English house'' where paranormal detective Flaxman Low uncovers gruesome details. In Conan Doyle's ``The Lost Special,'' in contrast, a bright June day does not deter cunning Herbert de Lernac from committing the ``inexplicable crime of the century.'' In ``The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,'' Sherlock Holmes links a lost hat, a Christmas goose and a hotel jewel robbery during the ``season of forgiveness.'' Gambling habits prove ruinous in J. S. Le Fanu's exemplary double-locked-room mystery ``The Murdered Cousin''; Wilkie Collins's ``Who Killed Zebedee?'' tells of love and obsession in a rooming house. Other stories address blackmail, embezzlement and kleptomania, showcasing the splendid diversity of the Victorian mystery. (Oct.)
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