Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, July 15, 2016


Crime Stories from The Strand, edited by Geraldine Beare (1971)

The Strand Magazine was founded in 1891 by publisher George Newnes and at one time was the most popular periodical in England.  It published general fiction and articles of general interest.  It is probably best known today for publishing the original Sherlock Holmes stories.  Along with historical, adventure, and romance fiction, the magazine published a good deal of crime and detective stories, many written by leading authors in the field of that day.  The magazine ceased publishing in 1950, although it was revived in 1998 and continues as a mystery magazine.

Ms. Beare has assembled twenty stories dating from 1892 to 1942 featuring many of the most popular mystery authors of that period, as well as a couple of authors not generally known for crime fiction.  Some of the authors may not be familiar with today's readers but almost all hold an important place in the history of the detective story.

  • Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation was Sherlock Holmes, and two stories in the canon are presented here:  "A Scandal in Bohemia," the first Holmes short story (1891) and "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" (1913).
  • "Dick Donovan" was a pen name for Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock, a reporter and author of many popular sensational novels.  "The Jewelled Skull" (1892) concerns the titular item and a cult of drug users.
  • Grant Allen was popular writer who also wrote books about social and general science.  His novel The Woman Who Did, about a woman who rejected the concept of marriage, was extremely controversial for the Victorian era.  Here he is represented by a tale of "The Great Ruby Robbery" (1892).
  • L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace collaborated on a number of mystery stories, with Eustace, a medical doctor, providing the scientific background to the mysteries.  Meade was also a prolific author of girl's stories.  Here they combine their talents in "The Death Chair" (1899)
  • E. C. Bentley, author of the classic novel Trent's Last Case and inventor of the poetic form known as the clerihew, gives us a Philip Trent story, "The Clever Cockatoo" (1914).
  • "Sapper" was the pseudonym of H. C. McNeile, the creator of Bulldog Drummond. In "A Point of Detail" (1917), a knowledge of regimental tailoring is critical in unveiling a spy in this dark tale set in as World War I battlefield.
  • Edgar Wallace at one time was the author of 25% of the books sold in England.  "The Man with the Canine Teeth" (1921) features The Four Just Men.
  • Edgar Jepson was an author of detective, adventure, and fantasy fiction, as well as the translator of Maurice LeBlanc' Arsene Lupin stories.  "The Tea-Leaf" (1925), co-authored with Robert Eustace, is about an impossible murder with an impossible murder weapon.
  • Roland Pertwee was better known as a radio and screen writer.  His "The Voice That Said 'Good-Night"" (1927) employs his expertise in radio to solve the murder.
  • Rudyard Kipling was not known for detective fiction; in fact, "'Fairy Kist"' (1928) may have been his only detective story.
  • Agatha's Christie's "Poirot and the Triangle of Rhodes" (1936) features a certain Belgian detective and his little grey cells.  I'll let you guess who that might be.
  • "The Vampire of the Village" (1936) is one of over fifty Father Brown adventures chronicled by G. K. Chesterton..
  • Quentin Reynolds was an American journalist and war correspondent who seldomed ventured into fiction.  "The Man Who Dreamed Too Much" (1936) takes place in pre-war Germany.  Four distinguished guests are invited to dinner and one of them is a murderer.
  • Margery Allingham presents a story about the always delightful Albert Campion, "The Old Man in the Window" (1936).
  • Speaking of always delightful, Lord Peter Wimsey pops up in Dorothy L. Sayers' "The Haunted Policeman" (1938).
  • One of John Dickson Carr's lesser-known detectives, Colonel March takes center stage in "The Silver Curtain" (1939) by 'Carter Dickson."
  • A young boy disappears at the sea side.  One year later, another young boy disappears.  It's up to Reggie Fortune to provide an explanation in H. C. Bailey's "Primrose Petals" (1940).
  • A. E. W. Mason, the jingoistic author of The Four Feathers as well as the stories of
    Inspector Hanaud of the Surete, features Hanaud in "The Ginger King" (1940).
  • To cap off this collection, Agatha Christie returns with a second story, this time featuring Miss Marple -- "The Case of the Retired Jeweller" (1946).
In addition, there's a knowledgeable introduction by mystery author and critic H. F. R. Keating, whose taste is not diminished because it differs at time from mine.

There's more than enough here to please any lover of the classic mystery story.


  1. I've seen Crime Stories from The Strand edited by Geraldine Beare at Library Book Sales. I'll have to pick up a copy next time I see one. Nice review!

  2. Pretty nice set of stories, judging from those I've read, which is just a few.

  3. Interesting lineup. I even recognize a few. ;)