English Country House Murders, Thomas Godfrey, editor, Mysterious Press, 1989, paperback, 22 short stories
“There you are, after a day with overripe household bills or baby nappies, fatigued and spent. You retire to a comfortable seat in a secluded corner with a new Country House Mystery. Suddenly you are transported to a splendid baronial manner and teas with Lord and Lady Ferncliffe, who never paid a bill or changed a nappy in their lives.”
– from the Introduction
Country House mysteries are a sub-genre of the cozy sub-genre of the mystery genre. I suppose that means they are sub-sub-genre, but it doesn’t matter what you call it, this type of mystery can be well written, plotted and clever.
The introductory remarks I quoted above make it clear that there is a bias for these to be women’s reading. I don’t hold with this gender-specific fiction idea, so let’s forget that right now. I have always enjoyed cozies; I cut my mystery-reading teeth on Christie.
This book contains twenty-two stories in a nice fat 533 page anthology. This is the kind of thing I think of as a “comfort read” and when I was looking for something soothing to read I spotted this on the shelf and let out a little sigh. Perfect.
The first story in the collection is Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange” and the last is “The Worchester Enigma” by James Mills, both featuring Sherlock Holmes. Between these stories lie stories by a who’s who of classic British mystery authors. A very nice anthology, recommended for those who – frequently or occasionally – like their mystery fiction on the short and mild side, but still with an intriguing puzzle.
Table of Contents:
The Adventure of the Abbey Grange – Arthur Conan Doyle
A Marriage Tragedy – Wilkie Collins
Lord Chizelrigg’s Missing Fortune – Robert Barr
The Fordwych Castle Mystery – Emmuska, Baroness Orczy
The Blue Scarab – R. Austin Freeman
The Doom Of The Darnaways – G.K. Chesterton
The Shadow On The Glass – Agatha Christie
The Queen’s Square – Dorothy L. Sayers
Death On The Air – Ngaio Marsh
The Same To Us – Margery Allingham
The Hunt Ball – Freeman Wills Crofts
The Incautious Burglar – John Dickson Carr
The Long Shot – Nicholas Blake
Jeeves And The Stolen Venus – P.G. Wodehouse
Death In The Sun – Michael Innes
An Unlocked Window – Ethel Lina White
The Wood-For-The-Trees – Philip Macdonald
The Man On The Roof – Christianna Brand
The Death Of Amy Robsart – Cyril Hare
Fen Hall – Ruth Rendell
A Very Desirable Residence – P.D. James
The Worcester Enigma – James Miles.
I really enjoyed this anthology.