Death by Dickens
Mr. Pickwick, Miss Havisham, Scrooge, and other familiar characters from the novels of Charles Dickens return to fictional life in this collection of original crime stories by eleven mystery authors. Editor Anne Perry obviously believes that variety is the spice of anthologies. The stories range from thoughtful pastiches of the great master to a hip, modern revisioning of Scrooge, the authors’ styles varying from light romance to high drama.
Among the most memorable pieces were two about Scrooge: Lillian Stewart Carl’s tale of an adult Tiny Tim playing sleuth to track down the identities of Scrooge’s three Christmas ghosts, and Carole Nelson Douglas’s hilariously updated Christmas Carol, with Scrooge as a nerdy financial officer caught in an accounting scandal at a thinly disguised Texas megacorporation. Two very different takes on Mr. Pickwick come from Bill Crider, with his droll tale of an encounter with grave robbers named Mangle, Miggs, Pooch, and Snubb, and Gillian Linscott’s imaginative revelation of a dark secret from Pickwick’s youth. Carolyn Wheat gives us Miss Havisham’s solicitor Jaggers defending a murderess, while Marcia Talley revisits Pip and Estella years after Miss Havisham’s death, encountering a resurrected villain from their past. Anne Perry’s contribution takes us back to an early adventure of Sydney Carton with Robespierre in revolutionary Paris.
The skillful collaboration between the ghosts of Dickens past and some of the best contemporary authors make this anthology a thoroughly enjoyable read.