Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, May 29, 2015


Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror, Third Series edited by Dorothy L. Sayers

In the third and final anthology in this series Sayers presents another doorstop (1069 pages!) collection of great stories, many of them unjustly forgotten.  In the US these anthologies were published as The Omnibus of Crime (First through Third Series) with somewhat different contents.

The line-up:


  • "The Perfect Murder" by Stacy Aumonier (from The Strand Magazine, 1926)
  • "Stain!" by Alex. Barber (from The Story-Teller, 1931)
  • "The Bullett" by J. J. Bell (from The Strand Magazine, 1926)
  • "The Mystery of the Child's Toy" by Leslie Charteris (from Boodle, Hodder & Stoughton, 1934)
  • "Poker-Face" by Carl Clauson (from The Strand Magazine, 1926)
  • "The Level Crossing" by Freeman Wills Croft (from The Cornhill Magazine, 1933)
  • "The Brown Sandwich" by St. John Ervine (from The Story-Teller, 1933)
  • "The Judge Corroborates" by J. S. Fletcher (from The Malachite Jar, Collins, 1930)
  • "The Echo of a Mutiny" by R. Austin Freeman (from The Singing Bone, Hodder & Stoughton, 1912)
  • "The Perfect Crime" by Ormond Grenville (from Pearson's Magazine, 1932)
  • "No Man's Hour" by Laurence Kirk (from The Passing Show, 1933)
  • "Blind Justice" by Ethelreda Lewis (from The Strand Magazine, 1928)
  • "Saxophone Solo" by G. R. Malloch (from Cassell's Magazine, 1931)
  • "Wilful Murder" by H. A. Manhood (from Apples by Night, 1932)
  • "Member of the Jury" by John Millard (from The Story-Teller, 1933)
  • "The Blue Trout" by Basil Mitchell (from Pearson's Magazine, 1933)
  • "A Sleeping Draught" by Anthony Parsons (from The Strand Magazine, 1929)
  • "Wet Paint" by Robert E. Pinkerton (from Pearson's Magazine, 1932)
  • "The Wrong Hand" by Melville Davisson Post (from Uncle Abner, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1918)
  • "On the Irish Mail" by Garnet Radcliffe (from The Windsor Magazine, 1931)
  • "Risk" by Margery Sharp (from The Strand Magazine, 1933)
  • "Leading Light" by Frederick Skerry (from The Strand Magazine, 1931)
  • "The Leak" by Harold Steevens (from The Strand Magazine, 1928)
  • "The Missing Undergraduate" by Henry Wade (from Policeman's Lot, Constable, 1933)
  • "Buttons" by E. M. Winch (from Pearson's Magazine, 1933)
  • "Inquest" by Loel Yeo (from The Strand Magazine, 1932)
  • "A Busman's Holiday" by Francis Brett Young (from The Cage Bird and Other Stories, Heinemann, 1933)
  • "The 19 Club" by A. J. Alan (from A. J. Alan's Second Book, Hutchinson, 1932)
  • "Sombrero" by Martin Armstrong (from The Fiery Dive and Other Stories, Gollancz, 1929)
  • "Lord Mount Prospect" by John Betjeman (from The London Mercury, 1929)
  • "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood (from The Lost Valley, Nash & Grayson, 1910 [Grayson & Grayson])
  • "A Song in the House" by Ann Bridge (from The Cornhill Magazine, 1933)
  • "Couching at the Door" by D. K. Broster (from The Cornhill Magazine, 1933)
  • "The Dumb Wife" by Thomas Burke (from Whispering Windows, 1921)
  • "The Bargain" by A. M. Burrage (original to this anthology)
  • "Arabesque:  The Mouse" by A. E. Coppard (from Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, Jonathan Cape, 1921)
  • "The Mistaken Fury" by Oswald Couldrey (from The Mistaken Fury and Other Lapses, Blackwell, 1914)
  • "Sophy Mason Comes Back" by E. L. Delafield (from Time and Tide, 1930)
  • "Our Distant Cousins" by Lord Dunsany (from The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens, Putnam, 1931)
  • "A Jungle Graduate" by James Francis Dwyer (from The Story-Teller, 1932)
  • "The Scoop" by Leonora Gregory (from The Passing Show, 1933)
  • "The House of Desolation" by Alan Griff (from The Cornhill Magazine, 1934)
  • "The Island" by L. P. Hartley (from Night Fears, Putnam, 1924)
  • "Double Demon" by William Fryer Harvey (from Moods and Tenses, Blackwell, 1933)
  • "The Book" by Margaret Irwin (from The London Mercury, 1930)
  • "The Interruption" by W. W. Jacobs (from Sea Whispers, Hodder & Stoughton, 1926)
  • "The Diary of Mr. Poynter" by M. R. James (from A Thin Ghost and Others, Arnold, 1919)
  • " 'You'll Come to the Tree in the End' " by Cyril Landon (from The Novel Magazine, 1931)
  • "Time-Fuse" by John Metcalfe (from Judas and Other Stories, Constable, 1931)
  • "Decay" by J. C. Moore (from King Carnival, Dent, 1933)
  • "Stowaway" by Claire D. Pollexfen (from The Story-Teller, 1931)
  •  "A Pair of Hands" by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (from Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts, Cassell, 1910; Dent [Duchy Edition], 1928)
  • "The Hill" by R.Ellis Roberts (from The Other End, Palmer, 1923)
  • "The Pattern" by Naomi Royde-Smith (from Madame Julia's Tale, Gollancz, 1932)
  • "What Can a Dead Man Do?" by Herbert Shaw (from The Strand Magazine, 1928)
  • "The Virtuoso" by Vincent Sheean (from The Story-Teller, 1933)
  • "No Ships Pass" by Lady Eleanor Smith (from The Story-Teller, 1932)
  • "The Idol with Hands of Clay" by Sir Frederick Treves (from The Elephant Man, Cassell. 1923)
  • "The Frontier Guards" by H. Russell Wakefield (from Imagine a Man in a Box, Philip Allan, 1931; also published in Ghost Stories, Jonathan Cape, 1932)
  • "The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham" by H. G. Wells (from The Idler, 1896; Collected Edition:  Dent, 1927)
  • "Witch-Trot Pond" by Ben Ames Williams (from The Story-Teller, 1931)
  • "Anniversary" by Clarence Winchester (from The Story-Teller, 1932)
On her blog this week, Patti Abbott asked what constitutes a mystery.  For Sayers, the lines are blurred.  This anthology covers the mystery story from multiple directions, from crime and detection to both real and supernatural horrors.  Many of the authors are still well-known today and most were very popular in their time.  (There are a few I'm unfamiliar with.)  Some of the stories are tarnished by age but most hold up very well.  For fans of the Golden Age of Detection (that is, the years between World Wars I and II) there is a lot here to enjoy.  (BTW, Martin Edwards has a new book out, The Golden Age of Detection, which is highly recommended.)   For fans of the weird tale, there is some pretty scary stuff.

In short, there is something here for almost every taste, solid tales that range from good to great.  All three of Sayers' anthologies (and their American counterparts) will provide hours of pleasure.



  1. The US editions are all crime fiction, I gather? Wonder how much these books led to Hammett's CREEPS BY NIGHT (at least the first of the Sayers volumes), if at all (or if Christine Campbell Thomson was simply the inspiration for all)'ll note that Sayers is careful to segregate horror from detection, at least...

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    2. Todd, the US editions follow the British editions pretty closely. The Third Omnibus of Crime drops about a dozen stories for the British and adds a few more and weighs in at 261 pages less than the British edition. There's still a lot of horror, but Sayers blurred the lines in formatting the book. The Mystery and Horror" section contains some detective and crime stories.

      Hammett's CREEP BY NIGHT was published in 1931, two years after the first Sayers anthology and one year before the second. I think it's safe to say that the success of the US OMNIBUS OF CRIME may have had a large influence on Hammett's publisher.
      Thompson's anthologies drew heavily from WEIRD TALES and contained horror stories. It should also be noted that the 30s were a heyday for blockbuster mystery/horror/thriller anthologies from Odham's, Hutchison, Evening Standard, and other British publishers, as well as books from Philip Allan's Creeps series. The genre-specific anthology did not hit full stride in America until the 40s