cover image The Long Arm of the Law: Classic Police Stories

The Long Arm of the Law: Classic Police Stories

Edited by Martin Edwards. Poisoned Pen, $12.95 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-1-4642-0906-2

Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of mystery fiction’s golden age, Edwards (Continental Crimes) has put together an anthology of 15 lost gems focused on the often-maligned official British detectives rather than the typically more eccentric and brilliant private investigators. The breadth of Edwards’s expertise is demonstrated in the first entry, “The Mystery of Chenholt,” by Alice and Claude Askew from The Adventures of Police Constable Vane M.A., on Duty and off, a 1908 volume so rare that even the British Library lacks a copy. This clever tale establishes atmosphere and characterizations in just a few pages, as a constable named Reggie is dispatched to the quiet Surrey countryside to recover from a traumatic night in “the mummy house,” only to be called upon by a butler desperate to save his employer’s wife from her husband, whom he believes is poisoning her. Also notable are Christianna Brand’s ingenious “After the Event,” in which her series sleuth, Inspector Cockrill, investigates a murder during a production of Othello, and Freeman Wills Crofts’s inverted mystery, “Fingerprints.” Edwards also includes lesser-known tales by authors such as Michael Gilbert and Nicholas Blake. (Jan.)