Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Foreign Bodies - Edited by Martin Edwards

I have read several books in this series of British Library Crime Classics and often I skip the Introduction until after I’ve read the book so eager am I to involve myself in the meat of the story. I’m not sure how fair that is to Martin Edwards who does such an incredible job with this series but in this latest collection from the Library each individual story is introduced by Mr. Edwards so I cannot escape him My experience is all the richer for it. Not merely en expert in his field Mr. Edwards demonstrates  the love he has for this exciting genre. My acknowledgement of his work has been long overdue and I’m happy to redress the balance here.

This book is a fascinating and quite unique collection of vintage crime stories in translation very aptly called Foreign Bodies. As mentioned previously each story is accompanied by an introduction which puts the story into context and gives us some information about the author of each one. Each story is enriched and I am in no doubt that my reading was enhanced by these prefaces.

It’s like a chocolate box of crime tales, some with hard centres, some with soft but all extremely tasty. They are diverse both in terms of the crimes but also culturally, Credit to all the translators who have rendered these accessible to English speaking readers. It’s a veritable global plethora of vintage crime writing. They are rich historically as we have an opportunity to learn about various crime solving techniques. I am always struck by how cerebral crime solving was before all the advances in forensics and technology were widely used. That doesn’t alter whatever the location. 

I guess everyone who reads these will have their favourites but standout stories? For me I particularly. enjoyed ‘The Stage Box Murder’ with, what must have been quite unique for its time, its structure. Also ‘The Mystery of the Green Room’ paying homage to Leroux. But there wasn’t a weak tale in the whole of this anthology. Unless you are an arachnophobe. Maybe there’s a couple you might want to miss.

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