Sometimes we need a break from fantasy and science fiction around here and there’s nothing to cut through that speculation like cold, hard crime. The U.K.’s Crime Writers’ Association delivers an anthology of classic stories in Vintage Crime. While it was a little humorous reading Lawrence Block described as being “overseas,” these stories give you everything British from the last hundred years – the RAF, the Beatles, mad cows, double-decker busses, all of it – in addition to some truly baffling whodunnits. Still, it’s not all quirky detectives bumbling around old mansions. There’s hard-nosed noir here to keep the whole anthology on balance.
The age of the story comes out in a few of the plot lines, but it really serves to highlight the adaptability of the criminal mind rather than ruin the plot. “Strolling the Square One Day” recalls the camera technology of times gone past in a truly devious blackmail scheme that’s all resolved by the click of a new roll of film. Others present a unique narrative perspective, like the systematic sales executive in “The Nuggy Bar” who plots his stepdaughter’s murder perfectly going by his own principles of salesmanship. Stories like “Interior, With Corpse” about a painter who recreates a murder scene from memory and blackmails the murderer present twisted puzzles for local gumshoes to unravel. One of them, “The Perfect Alibi” even takes place entirely in the dialogue between a couple of cops having a pint. The variety of murders displayed by this anthology shows the very best that British crime authors can come up with.
Vintage Crime is a collection of short stories that show many of the ways over the years that the Crime Writers’ Association can dream to commit murders. Following a crime theme, these stories present some truly bizarre and imaginative cases that will leave future readers absolutely stumped. It’s an excellent opportunity to review the classic cases that are legendary in crime fiction.
Four stars out of five
Page count: 320