Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tales of Mystery and Suspense


    This month I read a bunch of mystery stories and I had initially intended to do individual posts about each of them. But then, time got away from me and I was quite surprised to realize today that the month is nearly over. I’d like to get my post in before the Short Story Initiative monthly roundup so I’ve decided to do one post with my pick of the best mystery shorts I read this month. Sadly, when I got down to it, only three of the six stories I read seemed good enough to write about.

The Mystery of the Essex Stairs by Sir Gilbert Campbell
    This one is an old fashioned mystery of the sort that would appear in periodicals. It’s not an Agatha Christie kind of mystery where you have all the facts of the case needed to figure it out yourself. This is one of those mysteries where the detective (in this case a lawyer) pulls the killer out of his hat and presents us with a neatly tied up case and even a rather ridiculous confession. But I found the story very quaint and fun to read. If you enjoy courtroom dramas give this one a go.

The Fenchurch Street Mystery by Baroness Orczy
    I’ve only ever thought of Baroness Orczy as the writer of the Scarlett Pimpernel books, but apparently she has quite a repertoire of mystery and crime stories as well. Judging by this story, she was very good at it too. I will definitely be looking up more of her mysteries. This one is about the murder of a blackmailer by his intended target. The whole case seems very straightforward at first but obviously, it all unravels very soon. The story is very taut and clear with no holes to be found in the plot. Easily my favorite of the lot.

The Dancing Partner by Jerome K Jerome
    This is the kind of dark story that you would expect from someone who regularly dabbles in the macabre like Edgar Allen Poe not from someone who has written a book as funny as Three men in a Boat and Three men on the Bummel. The protanganist of The Dancing Partner is Nicholaus Geibel, a talented toy maker who specialises in clever mechanical toys. One day, listening in to a conversation between his daughter and her friends, Geibel strikes on an idea for a very ambitious toy. Although not strictly a suspense, it is sinister and menacing.

All three stories (and many more besides) can be found online here. Read and enjoy.


  1. Thanks, I love good mysteries and will look into these, especially the Fenchurch Street Mystery.

    A good collection I found in the library last year is The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories, which sampled from many English authors, and not only the better known ones like Agatha Christie; I think the Oxford series has come out with mysteries from other countries as well.

    1. Sounds like a great collection. I must see if I can find it at my local library. I plan to read more cozy mysteries in 2013. Any recommendations? Especially newer authors.

    2. From that collection I remember enjoying "Bring Back the Cat!" by Reginald Hill, "The Oxford Way of Death" by Robert Barnard, and "Three Is a Lucky Number" by Margery Allingham. There was also a good Ruth Rendell story, but the title escapes me.

  2. Hi Che,
    I've heard good things about Isaac Asimov's "Black Widower" mystery stories (I didn't even know he wrote anything like that until I read his biography last year!). I haven't gotten to them yet but hope to soon.

    Thanks for sharing these three. I haven't read anything by those authors, but may give The Dancing Partner a try.


  3. I'm planning to tackle Asimov for sci-fi month. have never read anything by him before.