Thursday, December 8, 2016

Friday's Forgotten Books: Best Crime Stories Vol.3 (Ed.) John Welcome

Best Crime Stories Vol. 3, edited by John Welcome, is an anthology of 11 stories which I enjoyed a lot.



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.

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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
Pages: 223
Source: CL [823.08 W449B]

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Submitted for Friday's Forgotten Books @ Pattinase.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really broad range of authors, which I usually like a lot as it serves as an introduction to all kinds of new possibilities! Thanks Neeru.

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    1. Yes, Sergio, even the editor mentions that he has selected authors who otherwise might not be thought about in the same vein. And I fully agree with you about the 'introduction to all kind of new possibilities' though I'd never have been able to put it so beautifully.

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  2. You can do much worse than reading further in the works of Algernon Blackwood, who mostly wrote horror fiction, and Stephen Crane, who was an early existentialist in many ways. And Du Maurier is usually pretty good, at very least...don't know that story, though.

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    1. Welcome back to the blog, Todd. Yes, I am very eager to read more of Blackwood and Crane (whom I only knew as the author the The Red Badge of Courage). Agree about Du Maurier and I am sure that others might not agree about my assessment of her story. Don't know why but it just didn't work for me.

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  3. This does look really enticing, Neeru. A nice and varied collection, too. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Margot. Yes, even I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book considering I like that twist-in-the-end stories.

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  4. Neeru – Thanks for the review. Blackwood is new to me and his story grabbed my attention.

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    1. Oh that story was marvellous, Elgin. You can read more of Blakwood @Pretty Sinister Books: http://prettysinister.blogspot.in/2016/10/ffb-listener-algernon-blackwood.html

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  5. What a coincidence you stumbled upon "max Hensing", a little known tale by Blackwood only a few months I wrote about it. It's an interesting interpretation of the story you remark on in the comment you left on my blog, but I'm not entirely convinced. I didn't think the subtitle affected how the story was told or swayed me in how I viewed the relationship between the two lead characters. I never once thought that Williams was deluded. His colleague warns him about Hensing, after all. And Hensing himself manipulates Williams in their first interview. I think Hensing is clearly intended to be the monster he is described as. Still... What a fantastic writer Blackwood is. You have a lot of rewarding reading ahead of you!

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    1. Since I experience it myself John, I still stick to the point that the sub-title can be done away with. I know the possibility is very thin but that 1% chance that Williams is the one in the wrong added to the thrill of the story. And yes, I am very excited about reading Blackwood. I have already downloaded a collection of his. Long live Project Gutenberg and other sites like it.

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  6. As you may know, Neer, I am not a big reader of short stories, but now and then I like to dip into an anthology and see what's what. This one sounds very good. Thanks for the introduction. Though I think Algernon Blackwood is a very cool name, but I've never read any of his stories. In fact the only writers listed that I've ever heard of are Stephen Crane and John Galsworthy. Obviously I need to learn a thing or two.

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    1. Yvette, though I too enjoy novels more, there are certain writers whose stories I enjoy a lot: Saki, Thurber, Somerset Maugham, O'Henry. This is a good collection and as Sergio so elegantly put it has introduced me to 'all kind of new possibilities'. I definitely plan to read more of and about these authors.

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