The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories by Patricia Craig
The detective story, with its roots in Poe's Chevalier Dupin mysteries and Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, first achieved mass popularity in the 1890s with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Its success has a good deal to do with its pungency, and with its power to intrigue and absorb the reader while abiding by the rules of the genre (however flexible these have become). Every age has produced a kind of detective fiction which exemplifies its distinctive manners and customs, from the sedate tales which began to appear in the wake of Sherlock Holmes to the debonair detection of the 1920s and after. The sleuth short story took off in many directions, with such writers as Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts, Carter Dickson, and Edmund Crispin bringing the upmost expertise and ingenuity to bear on the detective theme. An increasing realism is apparent in the post-war era, though with no diminution in entertainment value, and as we come up to the present, the detective story has been adapted further to accommodate sexual comedy and other facets of modern life. This collection of 33 stories shows the scope, vigour, and enduring fascination of the detective story, as well as indicating its importance as a barometer of social attitudes and literary practices. It gathers together a wide range of stories, many unfamiliar by writers of the calibre of Agatha Christie, Julian Symons, Ngaio Marsh, G. K. Chesterton, P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Nicholas Blake, Michael Innes, and H. R. F. Keating.