Monday, 12 August 2019

Deep Waters - Ed. Martin Edwards

Subtitled ‘Mysteries on the Waves’ Deep Waters is an engrossing collection of short stories from classic crime writers, lovingly curated by Martin Edwards. Linked by the common theme of water the collection offers a diversity of crime by a number of authors, some well known, Conan Doyle, C.S.Forrester, Michael Innes for example, others less so, but each story has earned its rightful place within the collection. There’s a rich variety of crime covered, from detective led tales to blackmail, murder, headless corpses and poisoned brandy glasses. Something for every crime fan to enjoy. The anthology arrangement too is satisfying and I feel that some time was spent in getting the stories in just the right order to offer optimum enjoyment fro the reader. 

As with all collections everyone will have their favourites. I particularly liked William Hope Hodgson’s Bullion. I enjoyed the originality of the premise and it’s execution with a well paced narrative. A fine example of the closed room mystery - only in this case the room is at sea!! Another favourites was R. Austin Freeman’s The Echo of a Mutiny where much of the action takes place on a lighthouse. In this story the detailed unravelling of the crime by the forensic detective Thorndyke is ingenious. If I’m not careful I’ll end up citing each story in the book or worse throwing out too many spoilers.  So I’ll limit my self to one more, Gwyn Evans The Pool of Secrets which appealed to me because, for its time, it must have been considered far fetched, yet today it seems quite plausible, that juxtaposition was fascinating. It was also another unique crime and the solving of it is simply so satisfying to read. 

There are sixteen stories in all, each prefaced by an informative introduction about the writer enabling the reader not only to place the work in some kind of chronological context but also to see its place within the development of crime writing overall. 

The short story is sometimes an overlooked genre. I’ve never quite understood why. But it is well represented by the British Library Crime Classics Collection. Within this format it offers crime fans the opportunity to experience some wonderful crime stories that might otherwise pass them by. This collection is their thirteenth themed anthology.

As ever my heartfelt and grateful thanks to British Library Publishing for a copy of this book.

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