Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 14, 2020


The Mystery Book, edited by H. Douglas Thomson (1934)

The 1930s appear to have been the Golden Age of doorstopper British mystery anthologies, many of them published by Odhams Press in London -- big fat books with small yet still readable type.  Case in point is H. Douglas Thomson's The Mystery Book, collecting 50 stories and weighing in at a daunting 1086 pages.

Thomson divides the book into three sections:  Stories of Mystery and Adventure,Stories of Crime and Detection, and Stories of the Supernatural.  Due to the nature of the beast there is some overlap among the three sections.  Here you find stories both familiar and rare.  And you will meet up with such once-popular sleuths as Reggie Fortune, Max Carrados, Inspector Wilson, Lord Peter Wimsey, J. G. Reeder, Martin Hesselius, and Sherlock (may his light ever shine!) Holmes; throw in a couple of rogues such as Arsene Lupin and Raffles; add a large amount of other tales from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; mix well and you have an interesting tome that will occupy you for many nights.

Also included are two novels (harumph! -- novellas really), The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  Thomson takes great pride in including both in a single anthology, the first (and probably not the last) this was done.  Two one-act plays are also included:  Thread o' Scarlet by Scotland's J. J. Bell and A Night at the Inn by the Anglo-Irish phenom Lord Dunsany.

There's May Sinclair's sexually understated "Where Their Fire Is not Quenched," a Russian detective story from Anton Chekhov, one of Dickens' "Sketches by Boz," Wilkie Collins' classic "A Terribly Strange Bed"( with its device that has since been used over and over in films and on television), Stacy Aumonier's unfairly forgotten "Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty," one of A. J. Alan's curious tales first read on the radio, and the minor classic "The Smile of La Gioconda" by Morley Roberts, among others.

Here's the lineup:


  • Stacy Aumonier, Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty
  • Max Beerbohm, A. V. Laider
  • J. J. Bell, Thread o' Scarlet
  • Ambrose Bierce, The Man and the Snake
  • Algernon Blackwood, The Occupant of the Room
  • W. Wilkie Collins, A Terribly Strange Bed
  • Guy de Maupassant, The Horla
  • Charles Dickens, The Black Veil
  • J. S. Fletcher, The Ivory God
  • Mrs. Gaskell, The Squire's Story
  • O. Henry, The Furnished Room
  • Thomas Hood, A Tale of Terror
  • Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Morley Roberts, The Smile of La Gioconda
  • H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man

  • A. J. Alan, My Adventure at Chislehurst
  • H. C. Bailey, The Nice Girl
  • Ernest Bramah, The Game Played in the Dark
  • Anton Chekhov, The Swedish Match
  • J. Storer Clouston, The Envelope
  • G. D. H. and M. I. Cole, The Missing Baronet
  • Freeman Wills Crofts, The Mystery of the Sleeping Car Express
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe
  • E. W. Hornung, The Wrong House
  • Michael Kent, Another Shot at the Locker
  • Maurice Leblanc, The Black Pearl
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Cave of Ali Baba
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Markheim
  • Edgar Wallace, The Green Mamba
  • R. H. Barham, Jerry Jarvis's Wig
  • Agatha Christie, The Last Seance
  • F. Marion Crawford, The Upper Berth
  • Allan Cunningham, The Haunted Ships
  • Daniel Defoe. Mrs. Veal
  • Walter de la Mare, Out of the Deep
  • Lord Dunsany, A Night at the Inn
  • W. W. Jacobs, The Monkey's Paw
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  • M. R. James, Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad
  • Charles Lamb, The Witch Aunt
  • Perceval Landon, Thunley Abbey
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, Green Tea
  • E. Bulwer Lytton, The Haunted and the Haunters
  • Frederick Marryat, The Werewolf
  • Mrs. Oliphant, The Open Door
  • Sax Rohmer, Tcheriapin
  • Sir Walter Scott, Wandering Willie's Tale
  • May Sinclair, Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched
  • Bram Stoker, The Judge's House
There are a number of stories you have read -- probably many years ago -- but they are worth revisiting.

The Mystery Book is available cheaply from the usual online outlets, with the shipping costs from the UK far greater than the price of the book.  It is also available through Interlibrary Loan, which is where I got my copy.

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