The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories by Patricia Craig
The detective story as we know it came into being in the 1890s with The Adventures of Sherlock Homes , and has never looked back. Its popularity 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 short tale of crime took off in many directions, with authors such as Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts, Carter Dickson, and Edmund Crispin bringing the utmost expertise, originality, and ingenuity to bear on the detective theme. An increasing realism is apparent from the post-war era on, and as we come up to the present, the detective story has been adapted further to accommodate bleakness, sexual comedy, incorrigibility, and other facets of modern life. This book is intended for lovers of crime and detective fiction, and of short stories in general.