Fans of Golden Age fiction, or those studying this intriguing topic, need look no further for a compendium on the subject than Bodies From The Library, which offers not only a selection of heretofore unnoticed or, in some cases, unpublished, stories, but also an excellent introduction by Tony Medawar.
Anthologies are a great way to get into new authors, and with the recognisable names such as Agatha Christie and A. A. Milne tucked safely at the end, there’s much to discover for even avid crime fiction fans. Whilst it may be tempting to skip to the end and read in the wrong order just to see a familiar name, I’d advise against it- there are some real gems throughout this invigorating read, which takes its name and purpose from an annual crime fiction conference held at the British Library.
Among the real corkers is a brilliant short story by J. J. Connington, a name I’d previously never heard, but have since been enthralled by, so much so that I’ve used an Amazon voucher I was given recently for my birthday to investigate some more of his work. Big names jostle for attention against virtually unheard of names and pseudonyms, and with insight and knowledge the anthology provides a great way to get to dig out some new reads, as well as learn more about old favourites.
There’s something for everyone in this charming anthology, with really great script ‘Calling James Braithwaite’ by Nicholas Blake, and another by Ernest Bramah; a longer, cunningly plotted mystery called The Girdle of Dreams by Vincent Cornier; and a short and sweet tale of murder and misdirection, namely The Euthanasia of Hilary’s Aunt by Cyril Hare. As a post-script, each tale is accompanied by a short biography of its author, as well as the heritage of the story itself, making the book both engaging and educational.
And of course, there is the revered story from the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie. Originally published in 1922 in the Australian publication Home Magazine, the story is one not often found in collections, and as such is a real treat for Christie fans. Whilst it might be tempting to skip straight to it and avoid the rest of the book, as explained earlier, I would sincerely urge you not to. There is so much in this unique collection that deserves to be read, and I promise you will not regret reading it from cover to cover.
To summarise, whilst there are some less interesting stories, the majority are utterly riveting, and as already mentioned there is something for every reader regardless of their preference. If you’re a fan of Golden Age crime fiction, you’ll love Bodies From The Library.