Top critical review
Misleading title, mixed bag of stories
19 January 2019
Firstly the title is a bit misleading (though the blurb is accurate) - this isn't a book authored by Ruskin Bond or even a set of stories by Ruskin Bond. It has one short story by Ruskin Bond, and 7 other tales which he has picked out.
Secondly - it's a bit more annoying because some of them aren't even related to murder (a fact Bond alludes to in his short opening note) so why choose to name the book this way? A more accurate title would be 'A Perfect Murder and other short stories' or 'Ruskin Bond's favorite crime stories' etc.
Thirdly some of these stories are available in the public domain since their copyright has expired while others like the Sherlock Holmes one and the Ruskin Bond one are quite common and likely to have been read by most readers so to pay for them in a weirdly packaged collection of is even...weirder.
Coming to the stories themselves, we have a mixed bag with five of them quite interesting while I thought three were total duds. The good thing is they're all short and you're introduced to a new set of (short story) writers which is always wonderful and my main motivation behind reading any anthology. They're all of similar length - i found them perfect to read during my daily commute.
The good :
- The Perfect Murder (Stacy Aumonier) : 2 brothers try plan the perfect murder of their aunt in Paris
- The Interruption (WW Jacobs) : A man achieves the perfect murder of his wife, but realises he'll need to murder his house help as well. This story had an excellent mahaul with a bit of anti-climatic denouement.
- The Lodger (Marie Belloc Lowndes) : A Jack-the-ripper era tale which was later also converted into a full length novel. Also excellent mahaul and disappointing denouement.
- He Said it with Arsenic (Ruskin Bond) : Classic clean matter-of-factly Ruskin Bond story told in the first person. You don't always need mahaul.
- The Red Headed League (Arthur Conan Doyle) : Standard Holmes & Watson caper so always threshold fun. No idea why it's a part of this collection given there isn't even any murder.
- When Al Capone was ambushed : I have no idea what this was or why it was included. The title is the summary
- The Duel : a guy is goaded into a duel and accidentally kills his opponent. Didn't make a lot of sense and Google tells me it's a part of longer tale so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- The Cask of Amontillado : I hope this is not representative of all Edgar Allan Poe who I've always wanted to read because it was cliched, contrived and disappointing...