Friday, August 10, 2018

A Moment on the Edge edited by Elizabeth George

I’ve been reading this over the past few days and finally finished it! The nice thing about anthologies is that it’s easy to read it in bits and pieces, which makes it really good for commute reading.

A Moment on the Edge is a collection of crime stories over the past 100 years. This book doesn’t just feature noted crime writers, but stories from a wider range of authors. All stories “share in common a desire to explore mankind in a moment on the edge”.

Each story is introduced with a brief biography of the author, but to be honest, I skipped those. My interest is solely in the stories, which were:

- A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell: Martha Hale is called to the scene of her crime. While she and the Sheriff’s wife are taken lightly by the men, the two women get to the heart of the matter and must decide - do they tell what they know? A very interesting story and a good start to the anthology.

- The Man Who Knew How by Dorothy L. Sayers: this makes me want to read more Sayers. A clever story with a twist, about a man who claims to have discovered the perfect way to kill.

- I Can Find my Way Out by Ngaio Marsh: A murder mystery set in a theatre, I found this to be a bit confusing. I think it’s because of the number of characters in the story.

- The Summer People by Shirley Jackson: This was a creepy story about whether a location is trying to kill the two main characters or if they’re just paranoid.

- St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Charlotte Armstrong: I thought that this was confusing at the start but it had such an excellent twist that I ended up liking it very much.

- The Purple is Everything by Dorothy Salisbury Davis: This wasn’t a murder mystery but about art theft. It’s a pretty good character study type of story.

- Money to Burn by Margery Allingham: I’ve heard of this author but I don’t remember if I’ve read her stuff! I thought this was a very tightly written story, although I had to read the ending twice to understand it. I definitely need to look for books by her!

- Nice Place to Stay by Nedra Tyre: This turned the crime story on its head by looking at things from the perspective of the criminal. I really enjoyed this one!

- Clever and Quick by Christianna Brand: There are murders in this and it’s not till the end that you get to see who comes up on top in this. Would highly recommend this too.

- Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer: To be honest, I didn’t quite get why this was a crime story. Sounded like love gone wrong.

- The Irony of Hate by Ruth Rendell: This story is the confession of a killer and I have to say, I did not expect it. I should probably pick up another Ruth Rendell novel soon.

- Sweet Baby Jenny by Joyce Harrington: I don’t know if it’s the dialect style of this, but I found this a little hard to read. I managed to understand what was going on, but only towards the end.

- Wild Mustard by Marcia Miller: A tragic story, though like with Country Lovers, I don’t quite understand how this is a crime story.

- Jemima Shore at the Sunny Grave by Antonia Fraser: Set in the Caribbean, this story has its protagonist investigate the death of the women she came to interview. The story started off well but I did not see the denouement coming or enough clues to guess at it.

- The Case of Pietro Andromache by Sara Paterson: I really liked this one! It involves a statue during WWII, duelling doctors, an a private investigator determined to help her friend. I need to go find more from this author too!

- Afraid All the Time by Nancy Pickard: A leading up to, but stopping just before, a tragic event. I feel like although the ending stopped at the climax, it didn’t feel that way because I never did find out what happened.

- The Young Shall See Visions, and the Old Dream Dreams by Kristine Kathryn Rush: This wasn’t my cup of tea, mostly because parts of the story seemed irrelevant to the crime. (Maybe because it’s a short story?)

- A Predatory Woman by Sharyn McCrumb: You have a reporter doing anything to get her story and a murderess who’s served her time. I wonder who the predatory woman in the title is?

- Jack be Quick by Barbara Paul: I really enjoyed this historical mystery, which imagines a solution to the Jack the Ripper serial killings (and why they stopped)

- Ghost Station by Carolyn Wheat: I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this story, but it turns out I did. It looks at women in the police force, alcoholism, and family.

- New Moon and Rattlesnakes by Wendy Hornsby: Lise is both on the run and looking for revenge. I didn’t know what was happening at first, but once I did, the story grabbed me and didn’t let go.

- Death of a Snowbird by J. A. Lance: Didn’t quite get this one, to be honest.

- The River Mouth by Lia Matera: Didn’t get this one either - and it felt like the protagonist navel-gazed a fair bit.

- A Scandal in Winter by Gillian Linscott: This is a tale involving an elderly Sherlock Holmes and it’s great fun! Really enjoyed reading this.

- Murder-Two by Joyce Carol Oates: I’ve heard of Joyce Carol Oates and had high expectations of this, but the stream of consciousness style of narration just confused me.

- English Autumn - American Fall by Minette Walters: The last story in the anthology, it was unfortunately rather weak. I think this is in part because of its lack of length because I didn’t connect to the characters and had absolutely no idea what was going on (and no memory of what it was about less than an hour after I read it).

Overall, this anthology was a good one. While I felt like it faltered a little towards the end, most of the stories were varied and excellent. While I knew of some of the authors, I haven’t heard of others and I got so many author recommendations from this!

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