The New York Sun
ARTS & LETTERS
Selection for the article:
Short, Not Always Sweet
By Otto Penzler
An absolutely first-rate anthology and great value for the money is "A Moment on the Edge" (HarperCollins, 540 pages, $24.95), edited by the distinguished mystery writer Elizabeth George. Subtitled "100 Years of Crime Stories by Women" (though only 84 years are covered), it reprints several familiar tales, including one of the dozen greatest mystery stories of all time, Susan Glaspell's often-anthologized "A Jury of Her Peers."
Authors represented include some of the great names, like Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Shirley Jackson, and Margery Allingham, and some authors who may be new to all but the most dedicated reader of crime fiction - Wendy Hornsby, Gillian Linscott, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. There is a wonderful story by Joyce Carol Oates (99% of all anthologies published during the past quarter-century have a story by the indefatigable Ms. Oates), and a splendid short-short by Minette Walters. But one of the prizes of this smorgasbord of sin is "Clever and Quick" by one of the greats of British mystery fiction, the sadly neglected Christianna Brand.
Here, as she is so brilliantly capable of doing (notably in the novel "Green for Danger," which was adapted for the movies so well that movie critic William K. Everson called it the greatest British B-picture ever made), she piles twist upon twist for an ending worthy of the best of Agatha Christie - who is, alas, missing from the roster of stars in "A Moment On the Edge." Also noteworthy is the lengthy and informative introduction by Ms. George. This is no slapdash page or two from this accomplished perfectionist, but a thoughtful and intelligent paean to crime fiction, which sets the table nicely for the varied array of treats that follow.
By George, I really like this book!
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