The volume begins with a masterly study of terror: Max Hensing by Algernon Blackwood. Williams, a reporter interviewing Dr. Hensing, standing trial for having poisoned his wife, is so much repulsed by the man that the tone of his articles loses journalistic objectivity. When Hensing is acquitted by the jury, Williams becomes convinced that Hensing is stalking him. This is an on-the-edge thriller and has made me want to read more of Blackwood. The second story interested me because of its title: A Bit of a Smash in Madras. Written by J.Maclaren-Ross, this is a wry, humorous comment on the judicial system especially in the colonies. The Diptych by A.J. Alan and The Burglary by Arnold Bennett are two delightful stories in which men try to outsmart each others. Incidentally, I also increased my vocabulary by coming to know that diptych is a painting, especially an altarpiece, on two hinged wooden panels which may be closed like a book. Decadence by Romain Gary has a macabre humour about it as an underworld don develops a taste for art. William P. McGivern’s M. Duval constructs the perfect alibi only to realise that the best-laid plans of men and mice…. Both Rudyard Kipling and Daphne du Maurier add a touch of the supernatural in their stories. While the former is hugely successful in The Return of Imray the latter’s Kiss Me Again, Stranger is the weakest story in the collection. Operation Pasqualino by Alberto Moravia is a coming-of-age story in which a heist goes wrong, with the master-of -operations getting some well-deserved slaps from his family and the man he wanted to steal from. Hilarious. Late-299 by John Galsworthy is a study of pride in which a man resists all attempts by the world to break his spirit. Another terrific story is The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane with its masterly exploration of the collaborative nature of sin. It has made me eager to read more of Crane.
More than anything, this volume taught me that there needn’t be a twist-in-the-tail for the enjoyment of stories related to crime. Recommended strongly.
First Line: Crime takes many shapes and the compiler of an anthology of crime stories does well to remember this.
Introduction: John Welcome
Pub. Details: London: Faber and Faber, 1968
First Published: 1968
Source: CL [823.08 W449B]
Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books @ Pattinase.