Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Mammoth Book of Historical Crime Fiction, edited by Mike Ashley

The Mammoth Book of Historical Crime Fiction: 12 stories from Bronze-Age Britain to Medieval Venice to 1930s New York, edited by Mike Ashley

This collection contains stories set in a diverse group of places from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine Empire to WWII. I quite enjoyed all twelve stories, but the cream of the crop was Eyes of the Icon by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer; it started with the line, "My first mistake was eating the Lord's eyes;" and got better from there. Another great one was The Fourth Quadrant by Dorothy Lumley featuring Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The most original was Forty Morgan Silver Dollars by Maan Meyers telling the story of how Butch and Sundance allowed two violent crooks to steal their identity and run to South America in order to retire in peace. One slightly offbeat note was Richard A. Lupoff's Dead of Winter starring Caligula Foxx. A good story, but the characters all felt like impostors: Foxx is a dead ringer for Nero Wolfe in looks, history, attitude, and profession. I'd call it an homage, but the similarities are so strong it is more like character theft. Fitting for a crime anthology I suppose!

First Sentence (from the Introduction):
The stories in this anthology cover over four thousand years of crime.

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