Forgotten Books: The Measure of Malice

The Measure of Malice – Scientific Detection Stories, edited by Martin Edwards, British Library Crime Classics series, British Library 2019 paperback

Note: It’s the stories that are (mostly) forgotten, not this new publication.

I really enjoy the British Library Crime Classics books and this newest one was no exception, an anthology of stories from the late 1800s to 1960s, each with a scientific bent. A few of these may be familiar to the reader of older works, and certainly the first one, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” will be known to the Sherlock Holmes reader. But several of these were completely new to me, and, I suspect, will be to other readers.

Here is the publisher’s blurb:

The detective’s role is simple: to catch the culprit. Yet behind each casual observation lies a learned mind, trained on finding the key to the mystery. Crimes, whatever their form, are often best solved through deliberations of logic – preferably amid complicated gadgetry and a pile of hefty scientific volumes.

The detectives in this collection are masters of scientific deduction, whether they are identifying the perpetrator from a single scrap of fabric, or picking out the poison from a sinister line-up. Containing stories by R Austin Freeman, J J Connington and the master of logical reasoning, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Measure of Malice collects tales of rational thinking to prove the power of the human brain over villainous deeds.

Indeed. Though slightly uneven, there are lots of good stories here.

Table of Contents: (I’ve put an * by my favorites)

Introduction – Martin Edwards
The Boscombe Valley Mystery – Arthur Conan Doyle  *
The Horror of Studley Grange – L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace
The Tragedy of a Third Smoker – C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne
The Man Who Disappeared – L.T. Meade and Clifford Halifax
The Cyprian Bees – Anthony Wynne  *
The English Filter – C.E. Bechhofer Roberts
The Contents of a Mare’s Nest – R. Austin Freeman  *
After Death the Doctor – J.J. Connington  *
The Broken Toad – H.C. Bailey  *
In the Teeth of the Evidence – Dorothy L. Sayers
The Case of the Chemist in the Cupboard – Ernest Dudley  *
The Purple Line – John Rhode
Blood Sport – Edmund Crispin
The New Cement – Freeman Wills Croft  *

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Forgotten Books: The Measure of Malice

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Hmm, for some reason, my library doesn’t have this one yet. They usually do get the books in this series, and I think I’ve read all the previous collections. One correction: the stories obviously date from earlier than the 1930s, judging from the Holmes story alone. And L. T. Meade died in 1914.

    I know I’ve read the Doyle, Sayers, and Crispin stories for sure, and possibly the Freeman and one or two others. It is on my list.

    Edwards was at Bouchercon but I never did get to talk to him, as I’d intended.

    • Indeed. I wrote that based on a quick scan the (c) page, without using the brain God gave me. I’ve adjusted he text to include the older stories, thanks for the catch.

      Note that this is the British Library edition, which I ordered direct. I haven’t seen the Poison Pen one yet.

      I have talked to Edwards once, very briefly, perhaps in Monterey. He was polite, but rushed. However I have exchanged email with him regarding the Northern Blood anthologies, which he both edited and in which he had a story.

  2. The Measure of Malice looks good. I’m ordering it now. Like Jeff, I planned to speak to Martin Edwards at BOUCHERCON #50 but missed my chance.

  3. Jerry House says:

    Another one to add to my gottareadrealsoon list, Rick A great lineup.

  4. tracybham says:

    I have only read one of the British Library story collections edited by Martin Edwards, SILENT NIGHTS, which was Christmas short stories. I should find more of them. This one does look good, and I like that cover.

  5. Thanks very much for this review and greetings from England – especially to those of you I missed at Bouchercon! I arrived late (though not as late as my suitcase…) and it was rather a mad whirl as usual, but I’ll be at the next Bouchercon in Sacramento and would be very glad to catch up with anyone who would be up for a chat.

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