Serpents in Eden - edited by Martin Edwards

Another huge thank you to Poisoned Pen Press who kindly agreed to let me read an advance readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The important thing to know about this book is that it is a collection of crime stories by some of the big names in British crime over the past 150 years, including G. K. Chesterton and Arthur Conan Doyle. All of them are set in rural England, the "Eden" of this collection.

In general, I loved this volume of classic crime capers, although there were one or two which I didn't enjoy so much. The styles vary greatly and you can tell that you are reading stories from different writers, which is certainly not a bad thing. I might try to find some of these writers in the future to see what else they wrote in their lives.

The first story, The Black Doctor, stands out greatly. It was a Conan Doyle short, but not about Sherlock Holmes, his most famous detective. Instead, it tells of a murder investigation where a doctor is murdered. The main suspect is arrested and put on trial, yet the trial takes a decidedly more clever twist.

The worst story, for me, was Clue in the Mustard. The idea is fine, but the story doesn't develop at all and I believe that it needed to be much longer to get the full sense of what happened.

A nice treat was a short story by P. G. Wodehouse's step-daughter, Leonora called Inquest. This is a clever story and one I enjoyed reading very much. I will try to find some more of her work, but I know that they are quite hard to find.

Overall, then, a nicely put together compilation, and praise has to go to Martin Edwards for piecing it together so well. It is just a pity about the occasional story, but some people will, I'm sure, love them all!

Star rating: 4 from 5 - a collection of cracking classic crime conundrums