That grasshopper mind of mine has been at play again! After finishing my re-read of “Gormenghast” I had such a massive book hangover that I had no idea what book to pick up next; Peake is so all encompassing that it’s hard to step out of his world and into another! So I decided to pick up a volume which had been calling to me since it popped through the letter-box; it combines two of my loves (Scotland and Golden Age crime!) so I thought it might be the ideal palate-cleanser – and it really was! The book is “The Edinburgh Mystery and other tales of Scottish Crime” , edited by Martin Edwards, and it was a treat from start to finish.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was born in Edinburgh and I’m an exiled Scot, so this was always going to be the perfect book for me! The BL GA crime anthologies are themed collections of loveliness, and this particular edition is no exception. Editor Martin Edwards provides an interesting introduction which gives an overview of Scottish crime writing (“Tartan Noir” is very much a thing nowadays, as we all know!); and then the stories kick off with a spooky and memorable murder story from Robert Louis Stevenson, “Markheim”, which I’d not come across before and which I was glad I was reading in daylight!

Interestingly, the collection draws in a wide variety of authors and stories by choosing not only Scottish writers but also stories set in Scotland by other writers. So there are names you would expect to see, like Conan Doyle, Josephine Tey, Anthony Wynne and Margot Bennett; as well as authors like Chesterton, Baroness Orczy and Cyril Hare. It’s a wonderfully wide-ranging anthology, coming right up to date with a name new to me, Jennie Melville. In fact, that was one of the particular joys of “Edinburgh…” – there were plenty of authors I’d not read before, and I do love to discover new writers!

This note of a dreamy, almost a sleepy devilry, there is no mere fancy from the landscape. For there did rest on the place one of those clouds of pride and madness and mysterious sorrow which lie more heavily on the noble houses of Scotland than in any other of the children of men. For Scotland has a double dose of the poison called heredity; the sense of blood in the aristocrat, and the sense of doom in the Calvinist.

As for some specifics and stand-outs; well, there wasn’t a dud really and it’s hard to select some and not others! “The Field Bazaar“, the Holmes story, was great fun, being something of an in-joke which was published in the Edinburgh University student magazine to help raise funds for them. The Tey,”Madame Ville D’Aubier” is a real rarity, apparently out of print since 1930, and it’s a brooding and atmospheric story of domestic unhappiness in France with a dark end. Margot Bennett’s story is only four pages long but quite brilliant!

Footsteps” by Anthony Wynne was another spooky treat, with a dark and storm ridden location in the Highlands, murderous lairds and scary footsteps in the night; I’m reminded I still have an unread Wynne BLCC on the TBR which should come off it soon. “The Alibi Man” is a wonderfully twisty tale of revenge which had me totally bamboozled; and Michael Innes’ “The Fisherman” has his famous detective Appleby dealing with a very puzzling conundrum on a fishing trip to Scotland. As for the title story, it’s a clever tale of theft and murder, with the “Old Man in the Corner” solving a mystery which seems very straightforward but is not.

Those are just some of the treats from this cornucopia of a book; really, all of the stories are thoroughly enjoyable, puzzling and very, very clever! As usual, Martin Edwards provides a potted biog of each author before their story, and I had such fun reading the book; it was the perfect thing to distract me after the Peake and is a worthy addition to my ever-growing pile of BLCC anthologies! 😉🤣

(Review copy kindly provided by the publisher, for which many thanks!)