Science has always been an important part of detection, from basic fingerprinting to the advanced forensic science of today, and Martin Edwards has, on behalf of the British Library, collected together a selection of short stories that demonstrate the various scientific principles that are used by both detectives and criminals alike.
From writers that you might expect, such as R Austin Freeman and John Rhode, to others that you might not, such as Dorothy L Sayers and H C Bailey, there are fourteen tales here for the reader to sample. But are these worth your time?
Well, not all of them, obviously, as one of them is by H C Bailey…
Sorry, couldn’t resist, but even Martin’s introduction mentions how those stories have dated. But all in all, this is one of the strongest collection of short stories that the British Library has collected.
The reason is, perhaps, that the scientific mystery is, for the most part, a whodunit, and if not, it’s a howdunit, rather than a story about crime. I’m much less fond of the latter, so this was a very enjoyable set of stories. I’m not going to do a story-by-story breakdown – I’ve every confidence that Kate may well do one, as she has done recently for Deep Water, the preceding collection – but thought I’d mention some highlights.
Unfortunately, I read this about a fortnight ago and I’ve a dreadful memory – but the contributions from J J Connington, Anthony Wynne (although I wish it had been anything other than the one short story that I’ve already read) and John Rhode, with only the H C Bailey sticking in the mind as a bit of a stinker.
All in all, this is a great collection of tales and well worth your time.
[Apologies from the brevity of the review – the memory fades quicker with age…]