Welcome to the English country-side. The place for walking the dog, lazing in the sunshine (sometimes) and the occasional murder. And not just the several men, horses and dogs vs a single fox sort of murder. Back in the Golden Age of crime fiction, it seems that it wasn’t just Midsomer where murders happened in the countryside. And those nice folks at the British Library, helped by Martin Edwards, have collected a whole bunch of countryside cases.
There’s a bunch of obscure cases, here, including a non-Holmes Conan Doyle tale, a non-Father Brown Chesterton, and other cases from, amongst others, H C Bailey, R Austin Freeman, E C Bentley, Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley and Gladys Mitchell, as well as the lesser known M McDonnell Bodkin, Herbert Jenkins, Leonora (daughter of P G) Wodehouse, Ethel Lina White and to top it off, a tale of Sergeant Beef by Leo Bruce.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s very hard to review short story collections in any depth, as most tales are over before they’re done and hence the spoiler-free review is a bit tricky. So I’ll be brief – basically, if you’ve enjoyed the other collections that Martin’s put together, then you’ll enjoy this one.
The only tale that I’ve come across before is the brief Bruce story – all of his shorts, apart from the one in Silent Nights, are collected in Murder In Miniature. Highlights for me were the Berkeley story, featuring Roger Sheringham, but only reprinted once before, the Gladys Mitchell (sans Mrs Bradley) tale and I was pleasantly surprised by the Dr Thorndyke tale from R Austin Freeman – I was under the impression that his work was quite dry, but this was a lot of fun. In fact I enjoyed most of the tales – the only odd one was the Allingham one, but it’s not very long, so didn’t bother me for long.
So another triumph for this range. While I look forward to the return to novels with the next release, this is a great collection and comes Highly Recommended.