Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, November 22, 2013

FORGOTTEN BOOK: GREAT DETECTIVE STORIES ABOUT DOCTORS

Great Detective Stories About Doctors edited by Groff Conklin and Noah D. Fabricant, M.D. (1963)

Back in the Sixties, Collier Books, which was best known for books on science, began publishing science fiction.  They didn't publish much SF but they reprinted titles numerous times over the year until the Seventies when their SF line shifted to the juvenile market.  (Through that entire time, they had a cover designer who should have been horsewhipped.)  Also in the early Sixties, the publisher had their Collier Mystery Classics line (selected by Anthony Boucher) as well as other mysteries.  The mystery and the science fiction lines crossed with the publication of two anthologies, Great Science Fiction Stories About Doctors and its companion book Great Detective Stories About Doctors, both edited by pioneering SF anthologist Groff Conklin and Noah D. Fabricant.

Great Detective Stories About Doctors presents seventeen stories (most actually are detective stories;  one, I suppose, if you squint in a dimly lit room, maybe -- just maybe, can be called a mystery story) from the turn of the last century to 1960, from mostly well-known writers in the mystery field and elsewhere.  (Of the seventeen authors, there was only one whose name I did not recognize.)  With only three exceptions, the editors refrained from including tales that may have been familiar to the dedicated mystery reader.  Of those, one was a lesser known Sherlock Holmes tale narrated by the Great Detective himself, one a story by Ben Hecht that had been reprinted several times, and the third, a 1924 story by Anthony Wynne that has been called a classic.  I doubt few of today's readers have read all three.

Anyway, the stories:

  • Murder at the Grand Babylon Hotel - Arnold Bennett
  • Murder in a Motel - Lawrence G. Blochman
  • The Doctor Takes a Case - George Harmon Coxe
  • The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier - Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Gifts of Oblivion - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • The Testimony of Dr. Farnsworth - Francis Leo Golden
  • Miracle of the Fifteen Murderers - Ben Hecht
  • The Grave Grass Quivers - MacKinley Kantor
  • The Eye - Gerald Kersh
  • The Seven Good Hunters - Rufus King
  • The Head - Manuel Komroff
  • The Other Side of the Curtain - Helen McCloy
  • The Memorial hour - Wade Miller
  • The Man in the White Mask - Alan E. Nourse
  • The Mirrored Room - Alan Rinehart
  • The Cyprian Bees - Anthony Wynne
  • A Busman's Holiday - Francis Brett Young

An impressive line-up, with (I'm sure) some writers who are forgotten today and really shouldn't be.  Unlike with most anthologies, all the stories are good.  I mean, real good.  And varied.  Something you don't often see, especially in a theme anthology.

Recommended.  But, alas, despite being reprinted five time, copies appear hard to get.  Abebooks lists only three copies available, with prices ranging from $40 to $68.

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed that Collier would think collections featuring doctors - in either genre - would sell enough to justify costs, even if they are reprints. Perhaps Conklin talked them into it, since he did a LOT of anthologies. I recognize less authors than you did, but many are familiar names. Boy, this one really seems to be a niche book.

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