Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Whodunit, by Philip Pullman

By Philip Pullman

Selecting a dozen or so mystery stories with the purpose of introducing this sort of thing to a young adult audience is probably something of a daunting task. Pullman, best known as author of the His Dark Materials books, does a decent enough job. He includes stories from many of the big names, including Doyle (The Speckled Band), Bentley (The Little Mystery), Sayers (The Inspiration Of Mr. Budd), Christie (The Adventure Of The Egyptian Tomb) and Queen (Cold Money). Not quite so well-known but still in the whodunit vein, one of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories.

There are also a number of stories that to my way of thinking don’t really qualify as whodunits, including an excerpt from Emil And The Detectives, by Erich K√§stner, a Saint story by Leslie Charteris, an Italian folktale by Italo Calvino, and some lighthearted crime yarns by Stephen Leacock and Damon Runyon. There's also Fingerprinting A Ghost, a non-fiction piece by Tony Fletcher, and a smattering of other stuff.

Whether or not the world really needs more of these broad overviews of the field is not for me to say, but this one makes for some entertaining reading, if not always quite delivering what it advertises.


  1. I never really understood Pullman's popularity. I read "The Golden Compass" and by the end was laughing at practically everything. Which forms a bias of sorts, disinclining me from reading this book.

    I enjoy reading your stuff since discovering your blog, but might I suggest going a bit more in depth? With a short story collection, I personally try to cover each of the stories and their strong/weak points, in a non-spoiler way of course. It may be more appreciated, for instance, if you went into why you don't consider the Saint story or the excerpt from "Emil and the Detectives" as a mystery, particularly to those unfamiliar with the story/author/book in question.

  2. I also read The Golden Compass some time back but wasn't interested enough to read any other Pullman. Good point on being more in-depth. I think it might have been that I wasn't excited enough by the book to take a closer look.