cover image The Measure of Malice: Scientific Detection Stories

The Measure of Malice: Scientific Detection Stories

Edited by Martin Edwards. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9962-0

Edwards combines the well-known (Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers) with the obscure (former actor Ernest Dudley) in this impressive anthology of 14 short stories featuring scientific and technical know-how. While “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” is familiar to Sherlockians and more casual fans alike, Edwards’s inclusion of it works to effectively contrast the description of Holmes’s use of footprints to solve a murder with the more detailed science employed in such entries as R. Austin Freeman’s “The Contents of a Mare’s Nest.” The latter cleverly challenges prototypical forensic scientist John Thorndyke to determine, after a corpse is cremated, whether a man was poisoned. In Dudley’s “The Case of the Chemist in the Cupboard,” Doctor Morelle, who’s based on the director Erich von Stroheim, probes the death of a chemist whose body was concealed in a cupboard, and then vanished. Perhaps first among equals is “The Cyprian Bees” by Anthony Wynne, yet another talent Edwards rescues from obscurity; the plot centers on a woman found dead in London, apparently from a reaction to an ordinary bee sting. Fans of TV’s CSI will enjoy seeing the evolution of criminal forensics. (Feb.)