(Audio) Book Review: Classic Crime Short Stories

This was an excellent collection of 10 short crime stories. There were mostly names I recognized, such as Ruth Rendell and Grahame Greene and G.K. Chesterton and others that I probably would recognize if I read more mysteries. I’m not sure that audio is the right format for me when it comes to short stories as I like to take a little more time between stories to ready myself for the next one but that’s not the fault of the book.

These are classic crime stories in that they’re not gory or overly dark (though there is certainly darkness here). The bad guys generally get what’s coming to them – even when the bad guy might be the victim of the crime. Most everyone is a gentleman and very British and behaves accordingly. Nothing here to keep me up at night, which is exactly what I like when it comes to crime stories. The narration also felt very British to me and though there were two narrators, I couldn’t much tell them apart.

Here’s a little rundown of the stories:

“Loopy” by Ruth Rendell

  • Probably the darkest of the stories, with an excellent creepy tone throughout.
  • Narrated by the murderer who is currently imprisoned.
  • Definite incestuous overtones and possible cannibalism so be warned. Nothing like that in any of the other stories though.

“The Missing Romney” by Edgar Wallace

  • Satisfying sort of Robin Hood story
  • The bad guy here is actually the person who gets robbed but everyone comes out of it exactly the way you might want.

“Insufficient Evidence” by Frances Hegarty

  • Felt realistic in the way it showed how people may react under stress.
  • Since I listen to audiobooks primarily while walking through a nice neighbourhood to work and this story was about people getting hit by cars while walking through a nice neighbourhood, it felt very lifelike.

“The Compleat Criminal” by Edgar Wallace

  • Very satisfying.
  • I like when a mystery is thoroughly explained and this fits the bill.
  • The criminal is sufficiently dislikeable but doesn’t really harm anyone and then is caught at the end through his own fault.

“The Case for the Defence” by Graham Greene

  • Very, very brief.
  • The only one where the answer isn’t clearly given at the end.
  • Ends with a question that I keep thinking about

“Markheim” by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Perhaps the story that feels the least suited to this collection as it isn’t really a mystery so much as a moral conundrum.
  • There is a crime but there’s no mystery involved
  • Felt longer than it needed to be and there isn’t a lot of action that occurs.

“The Blue Cross” by G.K. Chesterton

  • The only one in the collection that I’d read beforehand as I have read some of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories.
  • Still very satisfying.
  • Again, I like when everything is clearly explained at the end.

“Bluebeard’s Bathtub” by Margery Allingham

  • Fun and very satisfying.
  • Something like a warning to murders to not underestimate women.
  • Remind me never to take a bath with a heater nearby.

“Nine Points of the Law” by E.W. Hornung

  • Felt like I didn’t really get this one, like there was a lot here about English classes and clubs that was a bit beyond me.
  • Were the characters’ names really Ruffles and Bunny??

“Arsene Lupin in Prison” by Maurice Leblanc

  • My only knowledge of the Lupin stories is from the modern French show “Lupin” but this seemed to fit with the character that I expected based on that.
  • Again, I love when they explain it all by the end, even when it seems strange that the one who committed the crime would explain it to the detective chasing after him.
  • Classic gentleman burglar story in that Lupin and the detective are very friendly and civil and have a lot of respect for each other.

9 thoughts on “(Audio) Book Review: Classic Crime Short Stories”

  1. Sounds like fun! Raffles and Bunny, though, not Ruffles. I never liked the Raffles’ stories – I prefer the hero not to be a crook! Haven’t come across that Graham Greene story – must search for it…

    1. Ah, Raffles! That wasn’t one of my favourites. It felt like Raffles should have explained his plan to his friend and then it all would have gone smoothly!

  2. It’s interesting what you say about short stories not being ideal for this format. The only short stories I’ve listened to on audiobook are two Christie collections, both of which had a framing narrative to make them feel more cohesive and novel-like. I imagine I would feel similarly if I were listening to an anthology, though.

    1. That sounds like it would work better. When I read short stories I like to pause a little in between them but on audio it just barrels on to the next one!

  3. Well, they really jumped the gate with cannibalism and incest? I’m surprised you kept reading! I really enjoyed reading your personal reactions to these stories, such as how you felt about walking in a nice neighborhood and listening to a story about getting run over while walking in a nice neighborhood.

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