Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

resorting to murderTrains and boats and planes…

😀 😀 😀 🙂

Another in the British Library Crime Classics series, this works well as a companion piece to Martin Edward’s other recent anthology, Capital Crimes: London Mysteries. As the title suggests, Resorting to Murder is a collection of classic crime stories set in holiday destinations. While a lot of them are set in and around Britain, several others take us abroad, mainly to Europe with the Swiss mountains featuring more than once (well, a good place to make a murder look like an accident, eh?). In his introduction, Edwards suggests that holiday settings were popular with authors since the novelty of the location allowed them to concentrate a bit less on creating strong plots. The stories are in rough chronological order, as in Capital Crimes, again allowing us to see the progression of the mystery story.

swiss poster

There are a few well known names in here – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot is the first story (a favourite story of mine which I recently mentioned in a review of a different anthology) and GK Chesterton appears with a non-Father Brown story. But there also many whom I didn’t recognise at all or only knew because they had also appeared in Capital Crimes.

Here are a few of the stories that stood out for me…

The Finger of Stone by GK Chesterton – I admit that the Father Brown stories have never appealed much to me, so it was refreshing to read something different from Chesterton. This one centres on the creation versus evolution debate when a scientist who has ‘proved’ that the Biblical timetable can’t be correct disappears. It’s a bit silly, especially the twist ending, but fun and well written.

Holiday Task by Leo Bruce – this is a great example of a howdunit. A newly appointed prison governor is killed when he apparently drives his car off a cliff. But was it murder? And if it was, how was it done? The solution is clever and I kicked myself for not being able to work it out. As Holmes often remarked, it’s all so easy once you know how…

recalculating-1

The Hazel Ice by HC Bailey – I enjoyed Bailey’s contribution in Classic Crimes and liked this one just as much. Reggie Fisher is again the amateur detective, this time in a story involving a man who is missing after an accident in the mountains. Edwards puts Bailey’s decline from the public eye down to his quirky writing style, but I find it entertaining. It’s terribly upper-class 1920/30s style – Fisher doesn’t wear a monocle but one feels he should. A cross between Lord Peter Wimsey and PG Wodehouse, though admittedly not quite as well written as either. But fun.

A Posteriori by Helen Simpson – A short and strictly humorous story centring on the dangers of ladies travelling alone and being forced to make use of… ahem… public conveniences. Made me chuckle.

bloomers

The House of Screams by Gerald Findler – a great little horror/crime story about a man renting a haunted house. Are the screams that he hears in the middle of the night the ghost of a previous tenant? I’d have loved to read more of Findler’s work, but Edwards tells us that he only published one other story.

* * * * *

Martin Edwards
Martin Edwards

In truth, I thought this collection was quite a bit weaker than the London stories. Perhaps it’s the locations – London has always been such a great setting for crime fiction – or perhaps Edwards’ point about plotting is at the root of it, but on the whole I found many of these stories pretty obvious and not overly original or atmospheric, and often without much sense of place despite the interesting locations. There is some crossover of authors between the two collections, but there are also several in this who don’t appear in the other volume, and I felt one or two had been included for their curiosity value more than for the intrinsic quality of the stories. As usual in any collection, though, the quality is variable and there are enough good stories to outweigh the weaker ones overall, meaning this is still an enjoyable read.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, who publish the Kindle version. The paper version is part of the British Library’s Crime Classics series.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

65 thoughts on “Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

  1. Glad you found more to like than dislike here, FictionFan. I agree that London is a fantastic setting for crime stories. And it’s interesting how setting can impact a story. How fascinating, too, that Edwards points out the influence holiday destinations have had on authors’ decisions about plotting. Hmm…. I have to think about that. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    • I always enjoy these anthologies even if the stories are pretty variable in quality. But I did think the London setting worked better on the whole. I could see what he meant with a lot of these ones, but I was thinking at the time that it doesn’t always work that way. Christie in particular used lots of holiday settings, but I felt her plots in them are just as strong as in her ‘home’ stories. And the same applies to Conan Doyle. But maybe that’s why their stories have stood the test of time better than some of these.

  2. Had to laugh when I saw that picture of the car falling off the cliff! GPS’s are so frustrating like that. And you must agree that voice just drives one to insanity.

    The swiss mountains…now that is a place I might visit. To hunt the Yeti.

    • Mine drives me crazy – especially since we have a new road that isn’t on its map so it thinks I drive across a field every time I leave home. The voice gets very agitated after a while ‘Rejoin the road. Rejoin the road!! REJOIN THE ROAD, YOU IDIOT!!!!’

      Perhaps the Yeti would be hunting you…

      • *laughing lots and lots* Rejoin the road! That’s hilarious. So, the question is…when you’re going some place new…do you have printed directions as well, or do you trust the GPS entirely?

        He might try! But I’d…sneak up and lasso him or something.

        • Definitely printed – and I still get hopelessly lost! I actually love road maps – planning a journey is as much fun as going on one. The GPS and I really don’t see eye to eye most of the time – I end up arguing with it.

          But maybe he’d just be letting you as part of his cunning plan to trap you…

          • You know, I think I should get extra points, ’cause I guessed all of that! But GPS’s do try to be as wicked and mean as possible. Planning is half the fun, you’re right.

            That’s why I’d saw off his ears once I got him. Once they’re gone, he’s useless.

            • You did? See how well you must know me?! They never tell you what lane you should be in till it’s too late to get into it, I find… and then she sighs and does the ‘recalculating’ thing just as if it hadn’t been her fault in the first place!

              Ooh, that’s mean! Suddenly I’m on the Yeti’s side…

            • Exactly! They always mess me up on the lanes too. Imagine! True, the GPSs should start taking some blame, I think it’s only fair, after all.

              But Yeti ear might taste good.

  3. I’ve a couple of these from NG (I secretly want to buy them in paperback as they look lovely.) I must get reading one soon – thanks for the reminder, even if your experience with this one wasn’t as good as it was with the London one. (I’ll go for that one, I know I have it !) Happy to see this sort of work in print. It’s marvellous. Hope all’s well with you – any post-Wimbledon slump?!No huge surprises in the end. Jamie Murray did very well, though. I always feel he’s in the shadow.

    • I know – the whole series would look great on a bookshelf… if only I had a spare bookshelf! Both are worth reading but yes, I did enjoy the London one more. I’m glad to see these reissues too, especially since I seem to be losing touch with the way contemporary crime is heading. I’m always kinda glad by the time Wimbers finishes. I watch so much tennis between about April and July that I’m ready for a break from it, though this year we went straight to the Davis Cup! Yes, I always like seeing them play together in doubles – he seems to handle Andy’s greater success well.

      • I give Judy credit for continuing to keep a strong family unit, despite her and their father’s divorce. She’s a formidable lady! They’re obviously very close. We saw a bit of the Davis Cup, but yes, had enough for now! But the football season starts in Scotland this weekend….YAY!

  4. What would we do without Martin Edwards, eh? He has replaced the Greenes as a raker-up of obscurities. I’ll certainly give this a go.

    • Indeed! This whole British Library series is fun – you probably know a lot more of these authors than I do, but I bet even you won’t have read some of these before. They’re publishing quite a few novel-length obscurities too – obscure to me, anyway.

  5. Actually, I LOVE mystery stories, so these probably would work quite well for me. The photos of the car toppling off the mountain road and the gigantic ruffled bloomers grabbed my attention — if the stories can keep up with those mental images, well, they’re probably not too bad, ha!

    • So do I – a nice relaxing way to end the day! Both books have been enjoyable, even if I did prefer the London ones overall. Haha! The story of the bloomers is great – naughty in that old-fashioned inoffensive way and very funny. It was one of my favourites in the book…

  6. I have been very tempted by the new, attractive British Library’s Crime Classics series. Now I know there are a couple of short story collections in the series, I am even more tempted!

  7. I’m on self-imposed book-buying hiatus right now, but once that’s over, I do want to get something from the BLCC series. (I’ve been following various reviews with interest.) The Capital Crimes sounds like the best of the anthologies, and I love a London setting. Thanks for a very useful review. 🙂

    • The London one definitely appealed more to me but this was good too. I’ve been getting them as Kindle books via NetGalley but the paper ones would look lovely on a shelf… too tempting!

  8. Shan’t go for these – but I’d love to read the bloomers one, you make it sound very intriguing! I think they should be prescribed apparel for Wimbledon. Think how jolly Rafa would look

  9. I love the British Library Crime Classics, and even though this sounds like one of the weaker in the series, I’m sure I’ll find much to enjoy 🙂 Will definitely take a look at the London collection too.

    • I haven’t read any of the full-length ones yet, but I’m looking forward to trying some. And yes, although this one didn’t quite match up to the London one, it’s definitely still an enjoyable read. Most anthologies have some weaker stories, I think, but they’re still interesting as comparisons.

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