If I lived up north, I’d keep this book for those days that I was snowed in. Since I’m in Florida, I would keep it with my hurricane supplies except hurricane season just ended and I couldn’t wait until June to read this. It is a big door stopper of a book, close to a thousand pages, and very much worth the time it takes to read it all.
I fell in love with locked-room mysteries when I was a kid and tearing my way through Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None is a splendid example. It reawakened when I read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, and then again in college when I took a class on Noir/Hard-Boiled Fiction. We started with classics like The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, probably the earliest locked-room mystery, published in 1868, then to short stories in Black Mask magazine, and moved forward only to about the 1960s, where my professor believe noir to have ended. I tried hard to abuse him of that notion, and perhaps made some headway with books from publishers like Akashic Books and their series of city noir (Baltimore Noir, Brooklyn Noir, Tel Aviv Noir, etc.,) Bleak House Books, and of course, Hard Case Crime.
If you’re a fan of locked-room mysteries, do yourself a favor and pick up this tome. Included are such gems are Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” G.K. Chesterton, “The Invisible Man,” Dashiell Hammett, “Mike, Alec and Rufus” (“Tom, Dick, Or Harry,”) Stephen Barr, “The Locked Room to End Locked Rooms,” Bill Pronzini, “Where Have You Gone, Sam Spade?,” Erle Stanley Gardner, “The Bird in the Hand,” Dorothy L. Sayers, “The Poisoned Dow ’08” and many, many more.
This is an exceptional collection that Penzler has pulled together, and I highly recommend it to mystery fans.
12/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF LOCKED-ROOM MYSTERIES, ed. Otto Penzler. Vintage (October 28, 2014). ISBN 978-0307743961. 960p.