In compiling The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries, Michael Sims, the accomplished writer and anthologist, deviated from the conventional choices and opted for the unconventional. Rather than summoning the familiar suspects, Sims delved into the realm of the unfamiliar, resurrecting unjustly forgotten tales and uncovering hidden gems by authors who may not be traditional figures in the mystery genre.
This literary journey through the annals of murder mysteries unfolds as a captivating historical exploration, shedding light on one of the most beloved literary categories. The anthology ventures beyond the well-trodden path, presenting stories that have long been overlooked and were, until now, relegated to obscurity. Sims pays homage to rebellious early “lady detectives,” adding a layer of complexity to the narrative and showcasing the evolution of crime fiction.
The collection is not merely a homage to the genre’s giants but also serves as a tribute to the unsung heroes of crime literature. Among the luminaries unearthed from the archives are Auguste Groner, the Austrian novelist, and Geraldine Bonner, the prolific American writer, both of whom once graced the crime fiction stage. Their contributions, though perhaps overshadowed by more prominent figures, now find a deserving place in the spotlight.
For the contemporary buff of crime fiction in the twenty-first century, The Penguin Book of Murder Mysteries serves as a testament to the enduring allure of the genre. Sims masterfully weaves together a tapestry that not only revisits the roots of murder mysteries but also highlights the bold and audacious twists that the nineteenth century introduced to the timeless theme of bloody murder. In celebrating this historical evolution, the anthology invites readers to rediscover the richness and diversity that lie within the pages of these lesser-known yet enthralling tales.
Michael Sims is the author of Arthur and Sherlock, which was a finalist for the Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America, the Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, and numerous other awards; Adam’s Navel, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Science Book; The Story of Charlotte’s Web, which was chosen by the Washington Post and several other venues as a Best Book of the Year; and In the Womb: Animals, the companion book for the popular National Geographic Channel series. For Penguin Classics he has edited several anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime. He writes regularly for the New York Times and other periodicals, and his work is widely translated around the world.