Murder by the Seaside – Review
By Sandra Callard
The so-called Golden Age of Crime of the nineteen twenties and thirties became the name for the wonderful assortment of stories by the likes of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Josephine Tey, John Dickson Carr and various other brilliant, but perhaps now forgotten, authors who swept the floor of crime novel writing between the World Wars. Agatha Christie became the longest running and most famous of these authors, but the re-release of these wonderful short stories is a reminder of the skills of other writers who were quick on the tail of the master.
Murder By The Seaside is a lovely little book compiled by Golden Age supremo Cecily Gayford, containing a collection of wonderful short stories by some of the most talented writers of that time. All are short, clever and puzzling murder tales which test the brains of the most avid crime reader, and are in the delectable style of those years gone by.
Whilst murder itself is no laughing matter, it is nevertheless fascinating, and the novelty of these books lies in the diverse and novel ways that the authors present their stories. The intriguing and bizarre nature of the crimes which head these stories is a continual surprise, as is the innovative ways in which the authors provide the solutions to the crimes, all of which are a joy to read.
Some of the authors’ names may not be familiar to everyone, but it is essential to read each story, because if not you will be missing neat and surprising stories that you never knew existed. ‘Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday’ is one I didn’t know, being by G. D. H. Cole & M. Cole, but was a nicely paced and compelling story; the longest in the book. All the stories are witty and extremely satisfying at the finish, and just right to read on a rainy day or, just as good, with a nice drink in the garden on a summer’s day.
These stories shine a light on the various ways of life of the people of those days, which can tell us so much about them, and it is obvious that crime stories were just as popular seventy or eighty years ago as they are now, with the authors being just as laudable today as they no doubt were then. Readers will always love a good crime novel, and those of years gone by were rarely as brutal as modern books can be, even if the deed itself certainly is.
The plots of the stories in Murder By The Seaside are somewhat obvious in that all the stories are set in or by the seaside, but this fact does not seem to have much relevance to the stories. However, it is quite atmospheric, as it highlights the weather, the sea and the fact that most of the deceased are found in it, alongside it, or within the sound of it.
One of the good things about a short story is that a very pleasant couple of hours can be spent as the intriguing story unfolds, and the joy is that you do not have to wait very long before the surprising who-done-it appears. Although the reader will eventually yearn to get their teeth into a cracking long novel, these short, clever and satisfying stories fulfil a necessary presence if the reader’s choice at the time wavers away from the lengthy novel and yearns for the quick and pleasant read.
‘Murder by the Seaside’ is published by Profile Books, £8.99 paperback