I'm a little tardy reading and writing about last week's short story. I couldn't quite decide what I was in the mood to read. However, when I was digging through my bins of mystery books I came across an anthology of mysteries with a historical slant by contemporary authors that I completely forgot that I owned, Crime Through Time edited by Miriam Grace Manfredo and Sharan Newman. Voila. I had found something fitting my mood. I don't think this is in print any longer, but you might keep an eye out for a used copy if you are a mystery/short story fan. The anthology contains 21 "historical whodunits" by British and American authors that were written especially for this publication. There are lots of my favorite authors here; Anne Perry, Laurie King, Kate Ross, Peter Lovesey and Carola Dunn among others.
If you stop by here occasionally you might know that I am a great fan of historical fiction and that includes historical mysteries as well. I read this in the introduction, which I thought was interesting:
"At first glance, historical mysteries seem to have only the past in common. The authors' cast of characters inhabit diverse places and periods. In style and tone the historicals are as different from one another as present-day hardboiled detective mysteries are from drawing-room cozies. And yet, there is a common thread running through historical works which, while it connect them one to another, at the same time also sets them apart from their contemporary counterparts. In the historical the reader is given not only a mystery to solve, but also a new set of rules to solve it. There are no fingerprinting techniques, no sophisticated forensics, no computerized police departments. Often there is no currently recognizable police force at all. The investigator--the descriptive tag of "detective" made its first appearance in the nineteenth-century stories of Edgar Allen Poe--must find the culprit using only the tools at hand, often merely his or her own ability to observe and analyze the situation. And the exploration of the past itself often becomes part of the mystery as well."
The stories in the anthology are arranged in chronological order. The earliest is set in ancient Thebes during the reign of Tutankhamen and the last in Berlin during the Third Reich. And there is a variety of times and places in between. It was hard choosing which story to read. I am a great fan of Kate Ross (who passed away in 1998 leaving only four wonderful Regency-era mysteries), and a story featuring Julian Kestrel was included. And I also thought Miriam Grace Manfredo's story story set in 17th-century America about a woman "fascinated by books" sounded appealing. Will it be any surprise, though, that I chose a story set in 1920s England? One of my favorite cozy mystery authors is Carola Dunn. I think I must have nearly every Daisy Dalrymple mystery and have read about half of them (must catch up with those unread books!).
Daisy Dalrymple is the daughter of a Viscount, but she's living in genteel poverty after the war and the death of her father, brother and fiancé. Not surprisingly she has taken on a job working as a freelance writer contributing articles to magazines. And yes, she dabbles in mysteries and there's a bit of a romance thrown in on the side--with a police detective. In "Storm in a Tea Shoppe" there's not so much of a whodunnit as a whydunnit twist to the story. Daisy is a very inquisitive person, so it's not surprising that an innocent visit to a tea shoppe will get her mixed up in a murder. I'm not giving much away here, am I? It's not the sort of story with a lot of depth and hidden meaning, but is full of entertaining qualities! I know I say this about every anthology I pick up, but I'd love to read the rest of the stories as well. It's amazing the variety of stories there are out there--just when I think I'm really not in the mood for one, I find one that works perfectly!