cover image Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes

Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes

Edited by Martin Edwards. Poisoned Pen, $12.95 trade paper (306p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0575-0

This genial anthology contains 13 stories with rural English settings written over half a century or so, many during that golden age of crime fiction between the world wars. The solution of “The Black Doctor,” a non-Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle, depends on what today’s readers would consider a cheap trick, but which was probably quite novel when it appeared in 1898. The lush style of M. McDonnell Bodkin’s “Murder by Proxy” nicely conveys an earlier era. Thus a character is “radiant in white flannel, with a broad-brimmed Panama hat perched lightly on his glossy black curls.” And when was the last time you heard a cornered murderer exclaim, “Curse you, curse you, you’ve caught me”? A couple of selections hinge on information that is likely to be of significance only to natives of England, and others require a classical education heavy on Greek and Latin. Still, this volume is bound to please fans of traditional mysteries. (Mar.)