I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of short stories, often finding them disappointing. So I’m glad to say that I enjoyed this anthology edited by Martin Edwards: Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes. Some stories, of course, are better than others.
These are the sixteen stories in the collection. Martin Edwards has prefaced each one with a brief biographical note, which I found useful as some of the authors were new to me. I read the collection slowly, which I find is the best way to approach a short story collection.
- The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle (not a Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson story) about a train that disappears on its route from Liverpool to London. This was first published in The Strand Magazine in 1898.
- The Thing Invisible by William Hope Hodgson, an author I hadn’t come across before. First published in 1913 this is a murder mystery dressed up as a ‘ghost’ story. Very atmospheric.
- The Case of the Tragedies in the Greek Room by Sax Rohmer, another new-to-me author, although I had heard of his most well known character, the master criminal Dr Fu Manchu. In this story amateur detective Moris Klaw and his beautiful daughter investigate a locked room murder in a museum, involving ‘psychic photographs’.
- The Aluminum Dagger by Richard Austin Freeman, featuring one of Dr. John Thorndyke’s scientific stories, describing in detail how a man was discovered in a locked room, stabbed to death.
- The Miracle of Moon Crescent by G. K. Chesterton, a Father Brown story set in America, in which the cleric investigates a death by a curse.
- The Invisible Weapon by Nicholas Olde, an impossible murder mystery, in which there is only one man who could have done it – and he could not have done it.
- The Diary of Death by Marten Cumberland – an impossible crime, a kind of chess problem. Lilian Hope’s diary provides a list of victims -people she had hated.
- The Broadcast Murder by Grenville Robbins, in which a murder takes place in a radio station and is broadcast has it happens.
- The Music-Room by Sapper (not a Bulldog Drummond story), featuring a secret passage and a falling chandelier.
- Death at 8:30 by Christopher St. John Sprigg, in which a murderer predicts the date and exact time of the death of the victim unless a ransom is paid.
- Too Clever By Half by G. D. H. and Margaret Cole – Dr Tancred’s advice, if you intend to commit a murder, is don’t make the mistake of trying to be clever!
- Locked In by E. Charles Vivian – a death by shooting in a locked room.
- The Haunted Policeman by Dorothy L. Sayers (a Lord Peter Wimsey story) – probably my favourite in the collection. It had me completely mystified. The policeman is new to the beat and can’t believe his eyes.
- The Sands of Thyme by Michael Innes (a John Appleby story) murder at Thyme Bay, or was it suicide? Footprints in the sand provide a clue.
- Beware of the Trains by Edmund Crispin (a Gervase Fen story), a clever and baffling story about a lost train driver.
- The Villa Marie Celeste by Margery Allingham (an Albert Campion and Inspector Luke story) – another favourite, in which a young couple disappear, leaving behind their half-eaten breakfast, taking only a couple of clean linen sheets. There was no clue why they left and no signs of any violence.
My thanks to the publishers for my review copy via NetGalley.