Victorian Detective Stories: An Oxford Anthology by Michael Cox
Like ghost stories, short tales of mystery and detection were part of the Victorian reader's staple diet. But where the ghost story often cautioned against too great a faith in reason and showed men and women being persecuted by the inexplicable, the detective story celebrated the human ability to explain and comprehend. In this anthology, Michael Cox has assembled a wide-ranging selection of 31 stories from authors such as J.S. Le Fanu, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Mrs Henry Wood, Wilkie Collins, Grant Allen, L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace, Fergus Hume, Arthur Morrison, M.P. Shiel, Baroness Orczy, Sax Rohmer, Robert Barr, and - inevitably - Arthur Conan Doyle. There are police detectives, gentlemen amateurs, lady detectives (such as Catherine Pirkis's Loveday Brooke), professional consulting detectives, even an "anti-detective" (Guy Boothby's Klimo, who devises a crime for himself to solve) and a psychic detective. The villains against whom they pit their wits are equally various, as are their crimes - from fraud and forgery to theft, abduction, and of course, murder most foul, whether by poison, bullet, or blade.