Friday, September 6, 2013

Masterpieces of Mystery: Riddle Stories  - 1920
Joseph Lewis French (editor)
276 pages
genre  -  Mystery, Anthology
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

In 1920, Joseph Lewis French gathered together some tales that he called 'riddle stories'. In the preface it identifies a riddle story as "the most naive form of the mystery story. It may contain a certain element of the supernatural - be tinged with mysticism - but its motive and the revelation thereof must be frankly materialistic - of the earth, earthy."

In my opinion, his definition of a riddle story is a riddle.

The short stories included in this anthology are:
The Mysterious Card by Cleveland Moffett - Couldn't wait to see what the card actually said.
The Great Valdez Sapphire by Anonymous - Just okay, but has a good ending.
The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe - It's Poe; of course it's good. Is the movie on DVD?
The Birth Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Typical Hawthorne. Sad, sad, sad.
A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins - Very clever bad guys with very clever tools.
The Torture by Hope by Villiers de l'Isle Adam - Good thing we have the Geneva Convention now.
The Box with the Iron Clamps by Florence Marryat - Gruesome.
My Fascinating Friend by William Archer - Truly a fascinating story. Surprising ending.
The Lost Room by Fitz-James O'Brien - Odd. Not sure how to explain the happenings.

Over all, a wonderful collection of stories.

About the editor  - 

Joseph Lewis French (1858–1936) was a novelist, editor, poet and newspaper man. The New York Times noted in 1925 that he may be "the most industrious anthologist of his time." He is known for his popular themed collections and released over twenty-five books between 1918 and his death in 1936.

He founded two magazines, The New West (circa 1887) and The Wave (circa 1890).  Afterwards he worked for newspapers contributing poetry and articles.

He struggled financially and in 1927 New York Graphic, a daily tabloid, published an autobiographical article they convinced him to write, titled "I'm Starving--Yet I'm in Who's Who as the Author of 27 Famous Books."

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