cover image Thurber on Crime

Thurber on Crime

James Thurber. Mysterious Press, $25 (228pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-450-5

Crime seems as American as apple pie in this assemblage of Thurber's (1894-1961) stories, articles, essays and drawings. With cheerful equanimity he catalogues the horrible things that men and women do to each other in pieces on domestic strife, gangland rubouts, kidnapping, murder, robbery, smuggling, Prohibition, etc. Among the 36 selections, ``The Catbird Seat,'' ``The Lady on 142,'' fables about dogs and many other works will be familiar to Thurber enthusiasts, but five of the stories haven't appeared in any previous Thurber collection. He parodies spy novels; reads Macbeth as an Agatha Christie whodunit; and spins a Kafkaesque parable about a man who joins a secret organization, the purpose of which remains hidden from him. Thurber's crisp, non-sensationalistic crime reportage puts modern practitioners to shame. The delightfully unpredictable writing is enlivened by his jaunty cartoons. Mystery Guild selection. (Nov.)