A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor)

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A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor)

Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Superb collection which spans the decades and the globe is sure to have plenty of mysteries to appeal to every crime fan.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: August 2010
Publisher: OUP
ISBN: 978-0195370713

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Clive Wilkes is a delivery boy for a grocery store somewhere in America. Miss Oyster Brown is a devout spinster in a Berkshire town. An unnamed Scottish doctor works in Swaziland. What do these disparate characters have in common with the learned Horace Rumpole, Queer Customer, and Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh? All of them are connected with crimes – either as victims, perpetrators, or investigators – in this brilliant anthology.

On first receiving this book, I’ll admit I was slightly disappointed by the number of my own favourite authors left out. No place for queens of crime Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie, the superb Father Brown stories by GK Chesterton, or my personal favourite of them all, Lawrence Block. But while anyone reading a collection like this will be able to name authors they’d like to have seen featured, the sheer range of writing involved here would make it mean-spirited to focus on any omissions for more than the briefest of times.

Instead, let’s look at what is included here. We have classic English crime from Dorothy L Sayers, gritty American noir from Dashiell Hammett and Frederic Brown – the second of whom was previously unknown to me, but who I’ll definitely seek out more from. We’ve got stories featuring the aforementioned Dalgliesh and Rumpole, two of the giant characters of modern British crime writing, along with a psychological thriller from Ruth Rendell and a superb piece by Ian Rankin. Modern America is well represented with Sara Paretsky and Ed McBain, and there’s a great selection of writers who’ve had work adapted by Hollywood – Jeffrey Deaver, Patricia Highsmith, Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane, whose contribution ‘’Running Out Of Dog’’ is a real highpoint in the same vein as his superb film script ‘’Mystic River’’. Add in some lesser known authors, to me, at least, who if anything surpass some of the more famous writers, and this really does have something for everyone.

The shortest of these stories – Breathe Deep, by Donald E Westlake – weighs in at just under three pages and is perfect in its brevity, while the longest – Hammett’s Girl With The Silver Eyes – is just over thirty, and is equally perfect in its own way, with brilliant character development for a short. Each is either preceded or followed by a short piece about the writer and the story, while Rosemary Herbert’s introduction is also fascinating.

There are far too many standouts for me to name them all here – I’d literally end up typing in the majority of the title page – but even if your tastes in crime fiction are different to mine I’d be prepared to bet that any reader will love a bare minimum of half a dozen of these 26 tales, and that for most people that number will be closer to the full 26. For a trio of stories that cover enough ground to be sure that at least one will satisfy anyone, though, Rendell’s creepy Loopy, Deaver’s superbly intricate Copycat and memorable modern traditional Christmas story The Holly and The Poison Ivy are hard to beat.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: I’ll throw out a few here depending on which authors you particularly prefer – those who like Aird and Sayers should try one of the superb Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, with the Seventh Bullet being the standout. Fans of Ian Rankin’s story here are well advised to try his Rebus series, particularly the excellent Fleshmarket Close. If you enjoy Rendell’s Loopy then Raven Black by Ann Cleeves is another fantastic psychological drama. Finally, if you like the comic crime provided here by John Mortimer and Peter Lovesey, Marshall Karp’s The Rabbit Factory comes highly recommended.

Buy A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor) at Amazon.com.


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