Thursday, June 30, 2022

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries


Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries is an anthology of American crime fiction from the first half of the 20th century (1930 - 1949) collected and curated by crime fiction historian Otto Penzler. Due out 19th July by Penzler on the American Mystery Classics imprint, it's 508 pages and will be available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook formats.

This is a selection of 14 short works from very well known golden age authors from Craig Rice to Anthony Boucher, John Dickson Carr, Cornell Woolrich All the authors are relatively well known and will be familiar to most readers. Of the stories selected, only half were previously familiar to me (and provided a welcome re-read, I had forgotten most of the denouements). The detectives are selected from the authors' best known, and all of the stories are of a very high quality. Especially considering the addition of the information rich story notes, it's a very satisfying read overall. 

In the introduction and story notes, we are gifted a multitude of plum trivia and factoids which are delightfully obscure and lift the whole to another level of wonderfully nerdy and edifying. Background such as Mr. Penzler provides really enhances the overall enjoyment of the stories themselves and I always (always!) look forward to reading his insightful commentary. This volume also provides guided reading notes for classroom or bookclub discussion which will come in handy for more formal discussion (or solo rumination). 

Along with the classic and engaging stories, the background info and notes, and the discussion content, this is one of a series with coordinated cover art and layouts which provide a worthy service by protecting these early stories and presenting them to newer generations of readers. 

Five stars. The stories themselves are solidly 3.5 - 5 stars, weighted toward the higher end of the scale. Despite being pretty firmly an e-reader prejudiced reader at this point (sorry, not sorry), I have acquired these in physical copies as well, and I love the way they look on my bookshelves. This would make a good selection for library acquisition, book club & classroom use, or plain reading enjoyment. I recommend the series (and its editor) very highly.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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