The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime
Take a trip back to a time when criminals armed themselves with wit rather than with guns, and the pinnacle of crime-fighting technology was represented by Sherlock Holmes's magnifying glass. Edited by award-winning author and editor Michael Sims, The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime presents, for the first time, the best crime fiction from the gaslight era gathered in a single volume. All the legendary thieves are present - from Colonel Clay to Get Rich Quick Wallingford - burgling London and Paris, coming New York and Ostend, laughing all the way to the bank. Also featured are stories by distinguished writers from outside the mystery and detective genres, including Sinclair Lewis, Arnold Bennett, and William Hope Hodgson.(back cover)

The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime Details

TitleThe Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 5th, 2019
PublisherPenguin Books
ISBN-139780143105664
Rating
GenreMystery, Short Stories, Fiction, Crime, Anthologies, Classics, Historical

The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime Review

  • Jacob
    January 1, 1970
    Forget Sherlock Holmes, if you can--Victorian literature produced some great criminals as well! A. J. Raffles, Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, Simon Carne, Captain Gault, and many other scoundrels and ruffians tried their luck on the other side of the law, and many managed to make a very dishonest living out of it. American millionaires, watch out! English lords, lock up your paintings! Ladies everywhere, keep an eye on those diamonds! I recently read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I was hungr Forget Sherlock Holmes, if you can--Victorian literature produced some great criminals as well! A. J. Raffles, Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, Simon Carne, Captain Gault, and many other scoundrels and ruffians tried their luck on the other side of the law, and many managed to make a very dishonest living out of it. American millionaires, watch out! English lords, lock up your paintings! Ladies everywhere, keep an eye on those diamonds! I recently read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I was hungry for more--so I was delighted to discover this wicked little anthology from Penguin Classics. I figured this and The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime would make for some fun reading. Imagine my surprise when these stories turned out better than I expected--and imagine my disappointment when I realized most of the original collections from which these stories came were long out of print, or extremely difficult (or pricey) to find. Blast! No more stories for me? You're such a tease, Mr. Sims.Now imagine my re-delight when a Goodreads friend did some searching for me, and discovered some of the stories available online. Now me, I'm a bit old-fashioned, e-books aren't my thing...but hey, free is free, and why sit around grumbling about paper-and-ink books I can't read when those books are right here in front of my face? And why should I just read them myself? Why not share them with everyone? Heck, why not include them in a review?Huzzah! To the stories!1) "The Episode of the Diamond Links" by Grant Allen, from An African Millionaire: Episodes in the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay (Project Gutenberg)The millionaire Charles Vandrift and friends are traveling through Switzerland when they meet a very familiar face--but surely the dastardly Colonel Clay wouldn't be stupid enough to try robbing them twice...would he? (In fact, he does--twelve times in a row!) It's an amusing tale, but would probably be much better if read with the rest of the series. Which you can do! See above!2) "The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds" * by Guy Boothby, from >A Prince of Swindlers** Simon Carne, gentleman-thief! Klimo, famous detective! Could they perhaps be the same person? Perhaps! The Duchess of Wiltshire's diamonds won't be the Duchess of Wiltshire's for very long!*Gutenberg Australia, link includes several other Simon Carne stories.**Google Books, includes additional stories.3) "Nine Points of the Law" by E. W. Hornung, from Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman (Gutenberg)Harry "Bunny" Manders was about to blow his brains out over a gambling debt, until his old school-chum A. J. Raffles, famous cricketer and popular London man-about-town, talked him out of it and offered to help him get the cash. So they robbed a jewelry store together, and thus began a long, and fairly successful, career in crime. Huzzah for Raffles! So this is where it all began. I stumbled across The Amateur Cracksman earlier this year, and bought and read it on a whim--then searched frantically for the other stories. Raffles is the creation of E. W. Hornung, Doyle's brother-in-law (and I read Raffles before Holmes, oddly enough). In "Nine Points of the Law," from the first collection, Raffles and Bunny attempt to acquire a misbegotten painting the honest way, for once--but decide they would rather do it their way instead. It's a good one, and it makes me want to re-read the others.See also:-The Black Mask, or Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman-A Thief in the Night-Mr. Justice Raffles (Novel)4) "The Mystery of the Five Hundred Diamonds" by Robert Barr, from The Triumphs of Eugène Valmont (Gutenberg) More diamonds, is it? So be it. But don't let the title fool you, because this is not about the triumphs of Eugène Valmont. This is the story of a theft--one which led to Eugène Valmont's dismissal from the French Government, no thanks to those durn Americans. One hopes Valmont's later adventures in London are more triumphant--I'm especially looking forward to reading "The Siamese Twin of a Bomb-Thrower".5) "A Comedy on the Gold Coast" by Arnold Bennett, from The Loot of Cities: The Adventures of a Millionaire in Search of Joy (A Fantasia); and Other Stories (archive.org)Cecil Thorold thinks he can manipulate the stock market and play matchmaker at the same time. Can he really? Oh, you have no idea...6) "The Story of a Secret" by William Le Queux, from The Count's Chauffeur (Gutenberg)George Ewart isn't just the Count Bindo di Ferraris' chauffeur, he's also the Count's partner in crime...if only he knew what that crime was. But there's definitely something going on, or else why is Ewart posing as the Count de Bourbriac? Why is he in Brussels with a woman pretending to be the Countess? And what's she doing with the handsome German fellow?7) "The Chair of Philanthromathematics" by O. Henry, from The Gentle Grafter (Gutenberg)"When a man swindles the public out of a certain amount he begins to get scared and wants to return part of it." But don't expect Jeff Peters and Andy Tucker to invest in anything honest! I didn't know O. Henry wrote about crooks and swindlers too, but he did write over fifty million stories (fact), and I suppose they couldn't all be about silly young couples who ruined Christmas by not communicating with each other. Good sample, but I want more.8) "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford" by George Randolph Chester, from Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford: A Cheerful Account of the Rise and Fall of an American Business Buccaneer (Gutenberg)First two chapters of a novel, starring an expert con man. As a sample, not the best--but perhaps it works better when read with the whole novel.See also: -Young Wallingford9) "Blind Man's Bluff" by Frederick Irving Anderson, from The Adventures of the Infallible Godahl (manybooks.net)Who's the bigger thief, the Infallible Godahl or Malvino the Magician? Or something. This one was a bit weak, and I was tired when I read it.10) "The Diamond Spy" by William Hope Hodgson, from Captain Gault: Being the Exceedingly Private Log of a Sea-Captain (openlibrary.org)Gault, a sea-captain and thief (or smuggler? It's not entirely clear) outsmarts a spy/customs officer. Shame about the chickens.11) "The Willow Walk" by Sinclair Lewis, from Selected Short StoriesJasper Holt just embezzled $100,000 from his bank and vanished into thin air--and his stuffy religious brother insists on helping the investigation, if only he doesn't (cleverly) bore everyone to death first. It's the best acting job of Jasper Holt's life, until it gets the better of him. As the only story in which the criminal feels remorse and tries to make amends, it's a bit of a buzz-kill...but interesting nonetheless.Note: I managed to find the e-book available from the University of Adelaide, but I'm not entirely sure the US copyright has expired yet, so I'm not sure it's safe to post a link. Any copyright law experts in the house?12) "Four Square Jane" by Edgar Wallace, from Four Square JaneAnother story in which the eponymous thief does not appear--or does she? Someone is robbing the bloated rich and making charitable donations to hospitals, and she has her sights set on the uncharitable multi-millioaire Mr. Tresser's expensive art. But can she steal it from right under Chief Superindendent Peter Dawes' watch? You bet she can! From the Four Square Jane stories by the very prolific Edgar Wallace. Fun stuff, but no samples.Good show, wot!Many thanks to Richard--he was kind enough to find me some stories when I was too lazy to look myself, and I managed to find most of the stories from this anthology too. Look for a similar review (with too many links) of the Victorian Women collection sometime soon--I haven't found all of those stories yet, but I'm trying. And next year...well, I believe I have more than enough reading material to satisfy my Victorian lit addiction. So, onward 2012!
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  • Max
    January 1, 1970
    This is a pretty fun collection of old crime stories. What I enjoy about Sims' selection is that he focuses on roguish, almost heroic thieves and conmen. He avoids anybody who kills to get lots of money, on the basis that that's much to easy and not interesting to read about. Instead, the collection of men and one woman in this book use disguises, social engineering, trick objects, and other forms of subterfuge to earn their keep. Also, while some of the criminals are out purely for material gai This is a pretty fun collection of old crime stories. What I enjoy about Sims' selection is that he focuses on roguish, almost heroic thieves and conmen. He avoids anybody who kills to get lots of money, on the basis that that's much to easy and not interesting to read about. Instead, the collection of men and one woman in this book use disguises, social engineering, trick objects, and other forms of subterfuge to earn their keep. Also, while some of the criminals are out purely for material gain, others have more noble motives. One man manipulates the stock market to raise funds for a friend to marry, while another harasses a diamond magnate over and over again to gain justice for his evils. Of course, while I like reading stories where the protagonists are heroes on the right side of the law, what really decides my favorite of these stories is the ones with the cleverest cons and schemes. "The Duchess of Wiltshire's Diamonds" features a man who pretends to be a Sherlock Holmes style detective while using a special mechanism in a jewel box to steal priceless diamonds. "A Comedy on the Gold Coast" involves kidnapping and spreading rumors, while my absolute favorite story, and the one non-series one, "The Willow Walk" involves a man inventing his own brother. "The Willow Walk" is especially fun because it's a bit more literary than the others and sees the con artist himself succumbing wholly to the false persona involved in his con. The other thing that's fun about this collection is that almost all of the stories here are parts of longer series, which means that for the characters I enjoyed reading about, I can go and find books filled with their adventures, something I quite look forward to doing. As with the other anthologies by Michael Sims I've read, this is a great collection of rather obscure but quite good stories, and I encourage fans of crime fiction and late Victorian literature to check this book out.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    This book approaches the detective story from a different angle - the perspective of the villain. I found the quality of the included stories rather uneven, and many were hampered by the fact that these were parts of larger works or a middle work from an established series. In those cases, the stories felt rather incomplete and simply did not stand on their own. My favorite story by far was "The Willow Walk" by Sinclair Lewis. An amazing piece of writing, it was thoroughly engrossing from start This book approaches the detective story from a different angle - the perspective of the villain. I found the quality of the included stories rather uneven, and many were hampered by the fact that these were parts of larger works or a middle work from an established series. In those cases, the stories felt rather incomplete and simply did not stand on their own. My favorite story by far was "The Willow Walk" by Sinclair Lewis. An amazing piece of writing, it was thoroughly engrossing from start to finish. Unlike most of the stories, which present a crime and its solution like nothing more than an intricate puzzle, Lewis' story makes some very substantial observations of human nature. The crime itself is simply a means to exploring the nature of the individual and this elevates the story far beyond crime fiction. If you are particularly enamored of crime/mystery stories of the gaslight era, you may enjoy this book. But if you are looking for more than clever twists and surprises, I'd suggest simply getting your hands on "The Willow Walk" alone.
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  • rabbitprincess
    January 1, 1970
    * * * 1/2Overall an enjoyable collection to while away a few days with on the bus. Michael Sims has assembled an interesting group of con men, thieves and rogues who would have been contemporaries of Sherlock Holmes. Each story is by a different author and comes with an introduction by Sims explaining why he included the story and putting it in context with the author's other works. I really appreciated these introductions, as well as the notes for further reading.Of the stories themselves, my f * * * 1/2Overall an enjoyable collection to while away a few days with on the bus. Michael Sims has assembled an interesting group of con men, thieves and rogues who would have been contemporaries of Sherlock Holmes. Each story is by a different author and comes with an introduction by Sims explaining why he included the story and putting it in context with the author's other works. I really appreciated these introductions, as well as the notes for further reading.Of the stories themselves, my favourite was probably the Sinclair Lewis story "The Willow Walk", which was a fascinating character study. I also liked Edgar Wallace's "Four Square Jane" and nearly laughed out loud at the conclusion of "The Episode of the Diamond Links." I also nearly laughed out loud at William Le Queux's contribution, "The Story of a Secret", but that could be because I find him funny in and of himself. The story was pretty good though. It was also interesting to finally read a story about Raffles ("Nine Points of the Law"), but the introduction made me grumpy because Sims compared Raffles and his partner/biographer Bunny to Holmes and Watson, with Bunny and Watson being "dim-witted". Watson is not dim-witted; Holmes is just so smart he blows everyone else out of the water! But that was a minor gripe and did not affect my enjoyment of the story itself.Since these are short stories and many rely on clever twists at the end, I can't really say too much about them. Most have a breezy feel to them, even as their protagonists merrily rob their way to financial security. Basically, if you like the stories of Sherlock Holmes, you'll probably like this collection. The cover is great, too. Very nicely done.
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  • Cleo
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, how I loved this volume of short mystery stories. Each of them were witty and funny. All of the stories but one aren't detective stories; they're from the point of view of the criminal; which was interesting. As the title suggests, there are all manner of criminals: gentlemen thieves, rogues, con men, burglars etc. No murderers though, and the thieves get away with their crimes. The stories are all pretty suspenseful; not super suspenseful as they're written in an older style, but intriguing Oh, how I loved this volume of short mystery stories. Each of them were witty and funny. All of the stories but one aren't detective stories; they're from the point of view of the criminal; which was interesting. As the title suggests, there are all manner of criminals: gentlemen thieves, rogues, con men, burglars etc. No murderers though, and the thieves get away with their crimes. The stories are all pretty suspenseful; not super suspenseful as they're written in an older style, but intriguing enough to make you want to finish each story in one go. The volume begins with "The Episode of the Diamond Links" by Grant Allen, and concludes with "Four Square Jane" by Edgar Wallace (the only story here featuring a female, and one of my favorites too.) I'm planning to read The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime soon as well. Their is a short 1 1/2 page bio-note on each author before their story, and an introduction by Michael Sims, though I confess I just skimmed over the bio-notes and didn't read the introduction at all.So, yes, this was a marvelous, though slender, volume of amazing short mysteries, each with their own style and distinctive twists. I liked the cover too; the hand is surreptitiously stealing the Penguin logo. A clever, simple cover that fits the contents well.www.novareviews.blogspot.com
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  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may the more perfectly respect it"- G.K. Chesterton.That quote perfectly sums up the twelve delightful mystery stories from the Victorian and Edwardian eras contained in this volume.This is a collection that takes the reader back to a time when criminals used wit and ingenuity rather than weapons, and crime fighters resembled none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.The most popular mystery writers from th "Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may the more perfectly respect it"- G.K. Chesterton.That quote perfectly sums up the twelve delightful mystery stories from the Victorian and Edwardian eras contained in this volume.This is a collection that takes the reader back to a time when criminals used wit and ingenuity rather than weapons, and crime fighters resembled none other than Sherlock Holmes himself.The most popular mystery writers from this period are represented as well as those who normally didn't write mysteries such as O. Henry and Sinclair Lewis.Each story has an informative introduction by the editor, Michael Sims.Recommended for all mystery buffs.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Sims has done an amazing job assembling these stories of criminal capers from the gaslight era (love the cover, with the gloved gent's hand in the act of swiping the Penguin logo). The introductions are informative, inspiring and invaluable. Fascinating to see this vein of fiction that arose in response to the glittering wealth of the Gilded Age (many of the rich people in these stories are Americans). But Victorian charm isn't quite enough to sustain the collection. And it may have been a bit m Sims has done an amazing job assembling these stories of criminal capers from the gaslight era (love the cover, with the gloved gent's hand in the act of swiping the Penguin logo). The introductions are informative, inspiring and invaluable. Fascinating to see this vein of fiction that arose in response to the glittering wealth of the Gilded Age (many of the rich people in these stories are Americans). But Victorian charm isn't quite enough to sustain the collection. And it may have been a bit much to have 4 stories with "Diamonds" in the title.Standout stories by: Grant Allen, Guy Boothby, Arnold Bennett, O. Henry (of course), Sinclair Lewis (!), and Edgar Wallace - but that's half the collection, with no stinkers. A pretty good average.
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  • Daniel Kilkelly
    January 1, 1970
    This collection of short stories highlights a number of well written episodes of unique anti-heroes created in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This book allows readers to explore the creative response to heroes such as Sherlock Holmes as created by Doyle and enabling readers to identify with multiple authors in minute doses, whereby one can decide which characters and authors ought to be further pursued through additional reading.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Great little book of turn of the century crime fiction. Not only are there light (but not cozy!) crime fics, but there's some humor and twists as well. What really stood out for me in this anthology were the author introductions -- all too often in anthologies they just get to the short stories and you're on your own. Each story here had a little author bio with sidenotes, connections, and information about their other works.
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  • Jon Touchstone
    January 1, 1970
    I am still in the middle of this one. It involves gaslight era detective stories, i.e. ones that take both take place in and evoke the atmosphere of the time of Sherlock Holmes, but from the point of view of the criminals instead of the detectives. It's not bad, but I prefer to root for the detectives. I am not sure if I will finish this one, as I started a new Lord Peter Wimsey that I like much better.
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  • Maharsh
    January 1, 1970
    I would have ideally liked to give it a 4 star rating. The only reason I give it a 5 is because of the horizons this one opens up. If you like quaint, old world settings peppered with heists, and crime look no more. The greatest thing about the book is the introductions it offers to great writers (before each of their short stories). This book became my gateway to other outstanding writers such as Grant Allen and Guy Boothby. I strongly recommend this book of delectable crime stories.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    It is always interesting to contrast similar styles of stories from the same period of time and these are an amusing little set of Victorian crime stories.I find however, that I prefer to be on the detective side of the story than the criminal.
  • Bev
    January 1, 1970
    Pretty good. Although the intro says something about these being little known & mostly uncollected and I've read several of these short stories before. Also...I must be too law-abiding; I much prefer being on the side of Sherlock Holmes to Raffles. Three and a half stars.
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  • Americanogig
    January 1, 1970
    Great little book on crime fiction from the turn of last century through the 20s. No murders and most of the criminals are anti-heroic, Robin Hood types. Very amusing and lots of twist-turns to keep you interested. The atmosphere in each story was exceptional!
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  • Maren
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fantastic anthology of short crime fiction from the era of Sherlock Holmes. What makes the stories unique is that they are from the perspective of the criminals. A nice introduction to other authors of the era who may be less well known than Conan Doyle.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    The first story is a gem, but it's downhill from there. It is refreshing, however, to immerse oneself in diction that's intelligent and vocabulary that's just a little more precise than our contemporary language.
  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Read it for the introduction by Michael Sims, provided several atmospheric pieces that conjured up turn-of-the-century London and the thieves and detectives that entertained audiences after Doyle killed Sherlock.
  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    A nice collection of very short stories from a by-gone era. Great for a quick read that won't excite you too much.
  • Andy Fanton
    January 1, 1970
    I'm currently working my way through this really fun collection of Victorian/Edwardian crime stories, replete with rogues, scoundrels and even one or two rascals. Huzzah!
  • Portia
    January 1, 1970
    just what I needed! lots of different, fun crime stories
  • Theresa
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the same editor's Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime, but I can't say I was a huge fan of these stories; the rogues are not nearly roguish enough.
  • Catherine Siemann
    January 1, 1970
    The subtitled describes it best. Victorian and Edwardian and diverting, though necessarily fluffy.
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Good stories - if one has read a great deal of this sort of thing, the endings will not be particularly surprising.
  • Naticia
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe I am biased towards the detective stories I usually read, but I was not impressed with this collection. Some stories were better than others, but none inspired me to read more by the author.
  • Sam Shipley
    January 1, 1970
    A very fun read and some classic tales. Great for the morning bus rides.
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Collection of short stories on the adventures of con artist, burglars, rogues and scoundrels from Victorian era. Some are good, some are just ok. I dont have a particular favorite title.
  • Purple Osprey
    January 1, 1970
    As good as always.
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