Short Notes: Great Detective Stories

While I love reading mystery novels, the short-story in the same genre doesn’t excite me that much. However, I did like this Watermill Classic which has five stories in which either a burglary or murder is investigated by a detective (and his faithful side-kick).

In Arthur Conan Doyle’ s The Boscombe Valley Mystery, Sherlock Holmes and Watson travel to a country-estate where a man has been murdered, most probably by his son, the last person not only to be seen but also violently quarrelling with the dead man. Now, it is for Holmes to prove the young man’s innocence though all circumstantial evidence points against him. Reading a Holmes story after a very long time, I absolutely loved this story right from the time Watson receives a telegram from Holmes. The train journey and Watson’s reference to his time in Afghanistan brought a whiff of the past so strong that I wanted to read a Victorian mystery immediately.

Miss Florence Cusack and Dr. Lonsdale investigate the strange will of a miser that awards a man his weight in gold in L.T. Meade’s and Robert Eustace’s Mr. Bovey’s Unexpected Will which was interesting because of the detective being a woman.

Actress Kitty Sartorius loses her diamond-studded gold bracelet in Arnold Bennet’s playful story of beauties and adventurers – A Bracelet at Bruges.

Baroness Orczy is in fine form in Who Stole the Black Diamonds? The Queen of Bohemia loses her black diamond necklace. A year later, after the hulla-baloo has died down considerably, an American widow appears at a social function wearing the same necklace. She insists that these were legally bought by her late husband. Men of repute vouchsafe for the husband’s integrity. Even more intriguingly, the diamonds were bought much before they got stolen, at a time when they were still gracing the neck of Her Royal Highness.

The murder of a young woman in a train-carriage is investigated in R. Austin Freeman’s The Blue Sequin.

The best thing I liked about the book was it made me acquainted with authors about whom I had heard a lot but had not read (them). Barring Doyle, all were new to me. However, it would have better had this collection been edited with somebody providing a background to the stories and the authors.


First Line: We were seated at breakfast one morning, my wife and I, when the maid brought in a telegram.

Title: Great Detective Stories

Author(s): Arthur Conan Doyle and Others

Publication Details: London: Watermill Press, 1986

First Published: 1986

Pages: 124


The book might be available in second-hand books shops or libraries, I bought it at a Book Sale (Delhi Book Fair, 2009).

2 thoughts on “Short Notes: Great Detective Stories

  1. Neeru – Oh, that does sound a like a nice little collection! Some of these I've read and some not; I'll have to check this out.


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