Wednesday 10 December 2014

Review by Morgen Bailey of "Classic Crime Stories"


Discover a world of heroes and villains, suspense and intrigue. This riveting and comprehensive collection brings together some of the best crime writing of all time. Ruth Rendell and Frances Hegarty spearhead the modern genre, moving through the popular and rarely recorded Graham Greene, to Edgar Wallace and G.K. Chesterton and his master detective Father Brown. And that's not all.

You can find the following stories in this book: 'Loopy,' 'The Missing Romney,' 'Insufficient Evidence,' 'The Compleat Criminal,' 'The Case for the Defence,' 'Markheim,' 'The Blue Cross,' 'Bluebeard's Bathtub,' 'Nine Point of the Law,' 'Arsene Lupin in Prison.' This collection includes stories from Ruth Rendell, Frances Hegarty, E.W. Hornung, Graham Greene, Margery Allingham, Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton, Maurice Leblanc, Edgar Wallace, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

This collection is available here.  

Review (of the audiobook – timings in brackets):
The collection starts with Ruth Rendell's 'Loopy' (37.34), a strange tale about a man, Colin, who takes his role of Little Red Riding Hood's wolf far too seriously. His relationship with his fiancée sours as he grows closer to his mother, who had made his costume, amid discussions of their living arrangements.

Next up is Edgar Wallace's 'The Missing Romney' (21.50), a stolen painting taken from a deserving arrogant aristocrats - those with bloated bank balances earned by dubious means - by the elusive Robin Hood-type serial thief Four Square Jane. She's investigated by Peter Dawes who admires her for being a criminal with a brain. It appears to be the perfect crime and when it's revealed, it shows how clever Jane, and therefore, Edgar is. My favourite of the collection.

The third story, 'Insufficient Evidence' by Frances Hegarty (18.39), is a sad tale about a woman who seeks retribution and gets it, but not to her or others' expectations. Another well-written piece.

The fourth (and narrator-heavy) story sees the return of Edgar Wallace and his 'The Compleat Criminal' (25.29). The main character is Felix O'Hara Golbeater, a solicitor who has come in contact with many criminals. He appears to commit the perfect crime under another identity but his plan starts to unravel. The crime may have been clever but the ending was predictable and I guessed it.

'The Case for the Defence' by Graham Greene (7.58) is another classic and well-described story, and the shortest of the collection. It features twins and I expected a clichéd ending but the one given was satisfying.

Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Markheim' (45.25) is a strange tale about the interaction of an antique dealer and a customer, named Markheim. It lost me a couple of times but will appeal to surreal lovers.

'The Blue Cross' by GK Chesterton (45.29), like the three stories before it, is narrator-heavy with character description at the start. The main two characters are the criminal Flambeau and his pursuer Detective Valentin. My favourite line was about coincidences and how a Williams killing a Williamson, a case of infanticide. A very clever tale, one of the best here..
Margery Allingham's 'Bluebeard's Bathtub' (25.18) – also known as 'Three is a Lucky Number' – is another clever story but Ronald Torbay meets his match.

The last but one story is EW Hornung’s ‘Nine Points of the Law’ (35.47), a cat and mouse-type story of Harry ‘Bunny’ Manders attempting to outwit Raffles. He appears to have done so but is everything as it seems?

Finally is Maurice Leblanc’s ‘Arsene Lupin In Prison’ (42.54). Another incredibly clever tale which seems impossible but there’s always a way.

Generally the writing is very strong, albeit outdated in some respects, and, like most compilations, some stories are better than others but enough will appeal to any reader, especially those who enjoy historical crime mysteries.

This review was first published on Morgen Bailey's blog here.

About the reviewer
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance writer, editor, tutor, blogger, and speaker. Like her, her blog,, is consumed by all things literary. Her debut novel, several short story collections, and writer’s block workbooks are available from, and Smashwords. 

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