Deep Waters – Mysteries on the Waves edited by Martin Edwards, British Library, 2019 paperback, British Library Crime Classics series
Another in the excellent British Library Crime Classics series, of which I am a great fan.
A most enjoyable anthology, with many older, good examples, some well-known, of the mystery fiction world. Martin Edwards’ Introduction provides a survey of the sub-genre, and his notes on the authors of each story are excellent, as always.
So, to start with the Doyle. The Adventure of the “Gloria Scott” by Arthur Conan Doyle (1893): Although this is Holmes’ first ‘case’, it is, while interesting, hardly a detective story. Nevertheless, as a Holmes fan I was glad to reread it.
“The Eight Mile Lock” by LT Meade and R Eustace (1897): I’d read this one before, too, and remembered it as a bit silly. I was right. It’s about the theft and recovery of a diamond bracelet.
“The Gift of the Emperor” by EW Hornung (1899 ):Raffles, Bunny, and the theft of a magnificent pearl. We learn a lot about the relationship of the felonious duo, which I knew already, but this time I found the whole thing a bit tiresome. There are better Raffles stories, if that’s what you’re seeking.
“Bullion” by W.H. Hodgson (1911): Hodson returns to a favorite theme, a whistling, or whispering, entity haunting a room or house. This one takes place on a ship, and involves the theft of gold. Pretty good one.
“The Echo of a Mutiny” by RA Freeman (1912): Inverted tale of a murder with its roots in past misdeeds. I can’t say I liked it much.
“The Pool of Secrets” by Gwyn Evans (1935): Features an odd, mysterious detective, Quentin Ellery Drex. Involves a robot and an innovative murder method, by a prolific and seldom read writer.
“Four Friends and Death” by C StJ Sprigg (1935): I liked this story about three men faced with a poisoning. They had most of the facts…
“The Turning of the Tide” by CS Forester (1936): Though it is atmospheric, this inverted story of a well-planned but poorly executed murder left me disappointed. I’m not sure why.
“The Swimming Pool” by HC Bailey (1936): Reggie Fortune investigates a disappearance and murders in a tale with twists. Described by a Goodreads reader as “long-winded and written in an irritating style”. That’s a bit strong, but it could have been shorter.
“A Question of Timing” by Phyllis Bentley (1946): This was a good one, and the narrator prevents a murder.
“The Thimble River Mystery” by Josephine Bell (1950): I’d read this one before, somewhere, so it was slightly familiar. It features the author’s series detective, Dr David Wintringham.
“Man Overboard” by Edmund Crispin (1954): Another one I’d read before, but enjoyed all over again. DI Humbleby tells Gervase Fen why the police like blackmailers.
“Queer Fish” by Ken Bennett (1955): Predictable, story by a forgotten writer.
“The Man who Was Drowned by James Pattinson (1958): Investigation of a “man overboard’ on the high seas leads to complications and murder.
“Seasprite” by Andrew Garve (1963): Not much to my taste, but then he is not an author I like much. Some readers will like it for the irony.
“Death by Water” by Michael Innes (1975): A suspicious drowning, accident, suicide or murder?
I’d recommend it, but some of the stories are a little creaky.
Note on cover: the one you see here is the UK cover; the British Library edition. The U.S. title (Murder on the Waves) and cover by Poisoned Pen Press are different, showing a stream in woods.
All of these stories are new to me, but I will wait until the next book sale and see if this turns up. Most of the British Library Classics we have we got from the book sale, and in good condition.
You’re lucky to get those at the sales, Tracy, though I haven’t been to one in a while what I usually see are beat-up ex-library books, pretty much only good for a quick read and recycle.
But then I don’t shop those sales often.
It’s hard to go wrong with these Edwards anthologies, Rick. I’ll be on the lookout for this one. I will probably like the “creakier” stories more than you did.
Very possibly, Jerry, you seem to like just about everything “old”. I often do too, maybe I was just impatient to finish the book.
I agree with Jerry. It’s hard to go wrong with Martin Edwards anthologies. “Creakier” stories vary in quality. Some appeal to me, some don’t.
George, see my comment to Jerry. I agree that the British Library Classic anthologies are uniformly excellent.
I just finished it this week and I also liked it more than you did. I agree on the Sprigg, which prompted me to pick up a second novel of his on the Kindle as it was on sale this week (check out Amazon). I’d previously read a few – the Doyle and Innes and Crispin and Freeman – but that didn’t bother me. I agree the Meade & Eustace was silly, especially the “solution” to the crime. The Gwyn Evans was goofy but enjoyable in a fun way, if you can put yourself in a period frame of mind. I liked the Freeman. I always find Raffles and Bunny tiresome, so this didn’t particularly bother me. I’m not a big Reggie Fortune fan. I always find his stories too long. I enjoyed rereading the early Holmes, especially as it was from the Great Detective’s point of view rather than Watson’s. I did like the Forester and the Bentley.
Seems our responses line up pretty well, Jeff. By the way, I recently watched the original Raffles movie, with Ronald Coleman in the title role, and thought it pretty awful.