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The Mammoth Book of Dickensian Whodunnits

Edited by Mike Ashley

      Although there is nothing about Christmas in this book, it is the sort of book that is probably best read by a roaring fire with a chilly night beyond the curtains. As the editor says in his introduction, Dickens' characters are so well drawn and well loved, you wonder what becomes of them after the book has ended. Here are some crime related tales telling of the further adventures of some of these characters, as well as Dickens himself and some of his contemporaries.

This is an interesting and eclectic mix of styles and ideas, sure to appeal to Dickens fans and anybody else who enjoys historical crime fiction set during the 19th century. Some authors choose to emulate the style of Dickens (many doing this rather well) while others choose a narrator, or write in their own style. Among the more impressive offerings are Mary and Eric Mayer's very authentic and witty Pickwickian tale, and Kate Ellis' story about David Copperfield investigating Mr Murdstone's disappearance. Most unusual is surely Robert Barnard's story that turns the character of Little Nell on her head and tells what really happened, and Michael Pearce's story about two characters from Great Expectations in Egypt. Elsewhere, Amy Myers opts to write about a new series character and Dickens meets up with Sabine Baring-Gould, Edgar Allen Poe, and his father in the Marshalsea Prison. It would be interesting indeed for somebody to write a novel expanding on one of these ideas, but until somebody does there is this compilation of tales to enjoy.

The Book

Constable and Robinson
November 2007
Historical Crime / 19th century, various times / London and environs
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2007
© 2007