Martin Edwards, Foreign Bodies, British Library Press  As we come to the longer days/colder weather period, here’s a possible book for a rainy day. This collection trawls through decades of unknown crime stories. Given the harsh light of Time, it can’t have been easy to find high-quality work (although there are some names still recognizable now). There is any amount of cringe-making social snobbery, class antagonism, even references to other, more famous, writers. The opening introduction explains the genesis of the book and thanks a number of colleagues for their contributions in finding and translating their own top choices. There are slight introductions to each story, beginning with Chekhov. The earlier the story the more likely it is to turn on a clever twist. It isn’t always kind to retrieve early work, even by the best writers. Here is Chekhov’s opening sentence in the first story of the collection: On the morning of October 6, 1885, a well-dressed young man presented himself at the office of the 2nd division of the S. district, and announced that his employer, a retired cornet of the guards, called Mark Ivanovitch Klyauzov, had been murdered.  Too many aristocrats (though slightly fewer as we reach more modern writers), too many women as either victims or wicked schemers (or both), more spiders than necessary, and all but one of the authors is a man. Almost all the acknowledged assistants in creating the collection are men. As usual with Edwards, there are facts but no analysis.

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