Another great anthology from Otto Penzler, this time investigating crime.
Focusing on criminals from the Victorian era to modern day fiction, the Big Book of Rogues and Villains has something for everyone. Some of the bad guys are mostly good like Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder, who is more of a bungler than a burglar. Some are misunderstood like Dracula. Others are pure evil like Dr. Fu Manchu. However, all are entertaining. There is great value in this curated collection of 72 stories. It has over 900 pages of criminal enterprises to delight readers with hours of pleasure. It is also fun to jump from era to era and see how writing has changed over the decades.
The Big Book of Rogues and Villains is great for fans of traditional mysteries such as the Holmes or Christie canon. The author list sounds like a Who’s Who of great fiction from the last 150 years. It includes Washington Irving, H.G. Wells, Sinclair Lewis and even O. Henry, who are best known for genres other than crime. There are many twentieth century authors that are unfamiliar to modern readers, which is a shame based on the skill of their stories located in this anthology.
Overall, this collection is highly recommended for readers of mystery stories of all kinds. It is a great way to find new authors whose larger body of works are waiting for discovery by new readers. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, and netgalley for an advanced review copy.