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Murderous Schemes: An Anthology of Classic Detective Stories Paperback – Feb 1 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 519 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Feb. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195104870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195104875
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 2.5 x 13.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #453,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"What is this drug anyway?" Westlake asks about the timeless attraction of detective stories. This anthology answers by breaking the genre into eight types, each illustrated by four splendid examples. In subgenres such as Locked Rooms, Armchair Detectives and Brilliant Schemes Gone Wrong, Westlake showcases outstanding writers of the last 100 years. In "The Blue Geranium," Agatha Christie's Miss Marple solves a murder with only the clues of dinner conversation. Ellery Queen is represented, as is Edward D. Hoch, the leading current contributor to Queen's namesake magazine. In Hoch's "The Leopold Locked Room," police captain Leopold is found in a closed room with his murdered ex-wife. Ballistics results show that Leopold's gun fired the fatal shot, but Leopold and readers know he's not the killer. Every bit of the solution is cleverly foreshadowed. "Someday I'll Plant More Walnut Trees" initially seems to be a predictable tract on spousal abuse, but the author is Lawrence Block, who turns the reader's expectations inside out with two clever twists. Other contributors include Raymond Chandler, Shirley Jackson, Chester Himes and Roald Dahl. Westlake provides sensible analyses, even if he does sound a bit guilty for thinking too much about the pure pleasure of it all.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Editors Westlake and Davis arrange this collection around eight standard plot conventions, such as the locked room and the armchair detective, providing four stories for each by authors both old and new. They underscore differences not only between writers but also between American and British mystery fiction. Complete with short biographies.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Good mix of stories, including some literary mysteries Sept. 13 2000
By Author Bill Peschel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
As Hit and Miss as Most Anthologies May 17 2000
By sdelmonte@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Love the organization.... Dec 14 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.
Five Stars Nov. 15 2014
By Patricia Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really good survey of the various kinds of mystery novels and short stories.
Five Stars Aug. 25 2014
By Zeboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very nice! Shipment arrived promptly and book is as described.


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