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Murderous Schemes: An Anthology of Classic Detective Stories [Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake , J. Madison Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Jan 1998
, renowned mystery writers Donald E. Westlake and J. Madison Davis offer an illuminating look at eight such mystery conventions, illustrating each with four short stories written by some of the masters of the form.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (29 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195104870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195104875
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 14.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 979,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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When plotting a murder (figuratively speaking), the mystery writer has at hand any number of M.O.s, including such tried and true conventions as the locked room, the unbreakable alibi, the double bluff, and the mistaken identity. Now, in Murderous Schemes, renowned mystery writers Donald E. Westlake and J. Madison Davis offer an illuminating look at eight such mystery conventions, illustrating each with four short stories written by some of the masters of the form. The resulting collection of thirty-two tales spans a hundred and fifty years of crime fiction and includes virtually every style imaginable, from the hard-boiled detective story to the cozy armchair mystery.
the differences between American and British detective fiction, and they illuminate the evolution of crime writing over time. Here is a glorious treasure chest of tales that cover every crime in the book, written by a who's who of crime fiction—Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy L. Sayers, Chester Himes, Edward D. Hoch, and Lawrence Block, to name but a few.

Bringing together a century and a half of superb crime stories, Murderous Schemes is a glorious collection that will inform and delight anyone who loves mystery and mayhem.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars murderous schemes 4 Mar 2011
A great read from beginning to end, and a useful introduction to some unfamiliar writers. This, together with astute editing, provides excellent value for money. The book was promptly delivered as well.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good mix of stories, including some literary mysteries 13 Sep 2000
By Author Bill Peschel - Published on Amazon.com
Oxford University Press has been making a fetish out of publishing mystery anthologies over the last year, with the noirish "Hard-Boiled" deserving a place on any mystery reader's shelf, and "The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories" of somewhat more borderline quality. Now comes "Murderous Schemes," a cleverly designed book by Donald E. Westlake, a writer of mostly comic caper mysteries who is himself something of an institution.
What is ingenious about "Murderous Schemes" is that Westlake takes eight conventions of the mystery genre -- locked room, capers, armchair detectives and so on -- and picks four good stories to illustrate each, from an oldie but goodie to a hope-to-be classic. The result is an evenness of tone which the eight sections bob up and down like a steady sea wave. The book's organization also allows the reader to dive in according to his or her interests: fans of over-the-top mysteries can head directly to that section, while those who want to read all the latest stuff know exactly where to go.
What they will find in almost all cases are top-quality stories that are not solely limited to mystery writers. Alongside such standbys as Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Stanley Ellin and Lawrence Block are some effective choices from writers whose nefarious doings are rarely noted: Isak Dinesen, Roald Dahl, Jack London and Damon Runyon.
Weaknesses? Hardly any, although it's surprising to find Chandler's "I'll Be Waiting." It's a fine, taut tale, but the fellow's waiting also in Oxford's other two anthologies. Ellery Queen's "The Adventure of Abraham Lincoln's Clue" can also be found in "American Detective." And -- this is a personal quibble, mind you -- but I can do with a lot less of Edward D. Hoch's stories. His clue-filled stories are rarely memorable, and he seems to be praised more for his output (he's a monthly fix in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine) than for the quality of his work. Like Dr. Johnson's dog walking on its hind legs, it is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As Hit and Miss as Most Anthologies 17 May 2000
By sdelmonte@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
When I saw this, I wondered "how could I go wrong with Westlake as an editor?" Well, I forget how much detective fiction is inferior or more about crime than crime-fighting. So we get a very mixed bag. While stories by Simon Brett and Edward Hoch and Shirley Jackson stand out, others by acclaimed writers like Rex Stout and Ellery Queen fall flat. Some tales, especially one by Jack London, are barely readable, and the choice of Sherlock Holmes story for this anthology is uninspired. Still, most of what's here is entertaining and the good stuff begs for me to find more by the better writers.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the organization.... 14 Dec 2012
By J.R. Lauritsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For the purpose intended -- teaching an 3 session class, a sort of "history of the mystery" -- the organization & time span of the works included perfectly suits my needs. There's enough variety in both style & length to appeal to most of the folks who are likely to take this non-credit class. Because I don't have to fiddle with organization of the text, I can focus on expanding on developing appropriate teaching tools as well as finding additional resources.
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