The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime

Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels
from the Time of Sherlock Holmes

    
"I thoroughly enjoyed Sims's collection"

BARNES & NOBLE REVIEW

★ "Suspenseful, humorous and charming"

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"Unique. . . . Sims's introduction and notes to each story are well written and informative"

LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Classic crooks. . . . Substantial introduction and story notes"

ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE

"Excellent. . . . The crimes are ingenious, and there are diamonds aplenty and a pleasing dash of the political anarchy then prevalent"

LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Brilliantly edited. . . .Another delightful discovery"

NEWYORKER.COM

"A rich mixture, and a varied one, well worth reading"

THE DISTRICT MESSENGER: The Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London

"A nifty little anthology"

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

"Anyone who enjoys a good, smart, short, literate crime caper should snatch this anthology up"

BOOKGASM

"A well-researched and distinctive selection"

THE SHORT REVIEW

 

At the end of the review excerpts below, you will find links to interviews with Michael about this book.

Listen to a rave review of Gaslight from "Classic Mysteries"

EXCERPTS FROM REVIEWS:

"A host of worthies are here, from the wonderful Grant Allen . . . to E.W. Hornung . . . to George Randolph Chester. . . .I thoroughly enjoyed Sims's collection, which consists mostly of light-hearted capers and thefts, and am delighted that these tales, some long-forgotten, have unexpectedly been afforded the status of 'classic.' "

—Brooke Allen, BARNES & NOBLE REVIEW

★ "Noted for such science books as Darwin’s Orchestra and Adam’s Navel, Sims has compiled a thoroughly enjoyable anthology of what he calls caper stories from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Notable authors include Raffles’s creator E.W. Hornung, as well as names not usually associated with the crime genre like Sinclair Lewis and Arnold Bennett. All 12 tales are classics—suspenseful, humorous and charming."

—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"Sims has compiled a dozen stories focusing not on detectives but on thieves and con artists. These tales cover the period between the mid-1890s and the early 1920s . . . . A unique collection that is fun to read and evokes a bygone period of crime fiction. Sims's introduction and notes to each story are well written and informative. Recommended for all mystery collections. One can only hope for a sequel."

—Morris Hounion, LIBRARY JOURNAL

"[Sims] gathers such classic crooks as E. W. Hornung's Raffles, George Randolph Chester's Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, and Edgar Wallace's Four Square Jane. . . . Substantial introduction and story notes."

—Jon L. Breen, ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE

"Excellent. . . . Sims, in his survey, focuses on the miscreant. . . . Arnold Bennett, O. Henry, Edgar Wallace, and (amazingly) Sinclair Lewis are among the famous authors featured, with lesser-known lights like Grant Allen and Guy Boothby revived. The crimes are ingenious, and there are diamonds aplenty and a pleasing dash of the political anarchy then prevalent."

—Richard Rayner, LOS ANGELES TIMES

"A genius cover design . . . . Brilliantly edited by Michael Sims, the book contains some familiar names (O. Henry), some utterly unknown to me (William Le Queux), and some known, but not in the context of crime writing (maybe I would have hated stodgy Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives Tale less, when I had to read it for a college class on the English novel, if I’d known he’d also written stories about Cecil Thorold—a millionaire who swindles other millionaires in exotic port cities, out of boredom with his privileged life). Another delightful discovery: Edgar Wallace’s Four Square Jane, a rare example of the clever female felon, who robs the rich and donates the spoils to charity while being pursued by a cool-as-ice Scotland Yard investigator. In his Introduction, Sims writes about the escapism provided by these stories, in which criminals operated in a world with 'no television, no jet planes, no computers,' and had to rely on their cunning rather than guns and technology."

—Andrea Walker, NEWYORKER.COM

"Sims has trawled through the magazines that flourished in the Victorian and Edwardian era—The Strand was in competition with Pearson’s, The Pall Mall, The Windsor and numerous others. He was not looking for detectives but for criminals. . . . Mr Sims was inspired to compile this fascinating volume by the success of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Thief, his selection of Maurice Leblanc’s best stories about that most daring and imaginative of rascals... . It’s a rich mixture, and a varied one, well worth reading."

—Roger Johnson (editor of The Sherlock Holmes Journal), in THE DISTRICT MESSENGER: The Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London

"The game will definitely be afoot for hard-core mystery buffs who pick up The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime, a nifty little anthology. . . . Edited with commentaries by popular science writer Michael Sims, the collection emphasizes the misdeeds of legendary thieves, conmen/women and caper artists [and] there are also some odd-lot writers not often associated with the genre . . . thrown in for good measure."

—Rod Cockshutt, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

"Anyone who enjoys a good, smart, short, literate crime caper should snatch this anthology up . . . but pay for it, please. . . . [These] antiheroes use the tricks of their trade to trick the rich and gullible out of jewels—the shinier, the better—and even identities, not to mention good-ol'-fashioned cash. . . . Fine tales."

—Rod Lott, BOOKGASM

"The twelve stories in this collection will appeal to Agatha Christie readers or Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes fans. Typical motifs are clever types of theft, disguise and impersonation, forgeries and intricate plots. The chief characters are gentlemen' sleuths, or well-born criminals, acting usually from motives of adventure rather than gain. . . . Each story is preceded by a useful contextual introduction with a short author biography. . . . A well-researched and distinctive selection."

—Sheila Cornelius, THE SHORT REVIEW

INTERVIEW LINKS

A RADIO INTERVIEW with the national program "Viewpoints," written and produced by Pat Reuter (direct link to MP3 file; ten-minute interview with Michael starts halfway through program).

AN INTERVIEW with Art Taylor at "Art and Literature" about the collection.

AN INTERVIEW with Shashi Bhat at "Bookslut" about the cover.

A BLOG SERIES by Michael Sims (for Penguin.com) including the collection.