The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories

Patricia Craig, Editor Oxford University Press, USA $65 (576p) ISBN 978-0-19-214187-3
Beginning with the Conan Doyle era, this collection moves chronologically past Christie and Sayers to P. D. James and the present moment. Most of the 33 stories follow the Sherlock Holmes formula: a plethora of clues and a solution by ratiocination. No hard-boiled detectives or seedy characters can be found because, as Craig ( The Lady Investigates ) informs us in her introduction, such types never took root in the English detective story--British readers evidently prefer the urbanity of the drawing-room settings roamed by upper-class sleuths. The puzzles posed by locked rooms are thus solved in ``The Oracle of the Dog'' by G. K. Chesterton. Unexplained deaths are explained--delightfully--in Freeman Wills Crofts's ``The Mystery of the Sleeping-Car Express.'' A few perpetrators get away with their crimes, as in Robert Barnard's ``The Oxford Way of Death'' and in Cyril Hare's ``Miss Burnside's Dilemma,'' but most are brought to justice. The detective story, as Craig observes, is an optimistic genre; there is always, by tradition, a solution, and therein lies our pleasure. This anthology is chock-full of deductive reasoning, whimsy and that remarkable gift of the British: understatement. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/1990
Release date: 08/01/1990
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-19-282968-9
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-0-19-280371-9
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-19-280375-7
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