Book name: The Edinburgh Mystery and Other Tales of Scottish Crime
Editor: Martin Edwards
Publisher: British Library Publishing
Genre: Murder mysteries
Publication Date: 2022
Star Rating: 4/5
One of the things I love most about the British Library Crime Classics series is that it always delivers.
The Edinburgh Mystery and Other Tales of Scottish Crime is a short-story anthology selected and introduced by murder-mystery expert Martin Edwards.
There are eighteen stories in total, with quite a variation in length.
Martin Edward’s introductions to British Library Crime Classics anthologies and individual novels are always a fascinating analysis.
This was the case here. It’s a great way to get into the mood for murder mystery.
Having enjoyed the introduction, and keen to experience the stories because I live just a few miles from the Scottish border, I dived in.
The title story, ‘The Edinburgh Mystery’, is by Baroness Orczy. It centres around the theft of priceless diamonds from an aristocrat in central Edinburgh, with background about the family and friends.
Lady Donaldson is aunt and godmother to David. She promises him £100,000 plus the diamonds if he marries.
He chooses Edith Crawford, who stuns Edinburgh society wearing the diamonds in the run up to the wedding.
However, before the nuptials take place, Lady Donaldson is found strangled and the diamonds stolen.
I loved this story. It had panache, action, glamour and romance as well as the brutal murder and the theft.
Scotland is such an immensely varied country, and a story that couldn’t have been more different to ‘The Edinburgh Mystery’ was ‘The Running of the Deer’ by PM Hubbard.
This is set in the Highlands and centres entirely around shooting of game on the estate of Colonel Guthrie at Glenervie.
The narrator is ‘gentry’ (that’s his description of himself) and he goes to help with the shoot after the incapacitation of the gamekeeper due to excessive drinking.
The story is slow moving and atmospheric. My enjoyment was greatly increased by the encyclopaedic knowledge from the author on shooting.
I don’t approve of blood sports, but this story was excellent.
There’s nothing like a dead body right from the start to get a murder mystery going, so I loved ‘The Body of Sir Henry’ by Augustus Muir. We’re warned that the culprits evade justice, but even so the moorland chase by the policeman narrator and the detail that led to the discovery of the body in plain sight were brilliant.
It was quite my favourite story from this anthology.
The success of an anthology of this kind depends on both selection of stories and understanding of the submarket and its place in the wider murder mystery genre.
There’s no one like Martin Edwards to get both of these requirements right in spades. His name on the cover, plus the brand of British Library Crime Classics, are all the reassurance a reader needs about the quality of the reading experience they will find inside.
Thank you for reading my review.
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