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The Speciality of the House (CRIME MASTERWORKS) by Stanley Ellin (2002-06-27)


The Speciality of the House (CRIME MASTERWORKS) by Stanley Ellin (2002-06-27)

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Review Text

  • By glamagyal on 25 April 2015

    Fantastic. Received very quick. Great book. It's quite a big book, I was surprised considering the price. I love short stories, and this does not disappoint. Many thanks

  • By A K B on 23 March 2015

    Brilliant. Every story is has a wonderful dark tone. Read them all in two days.

  • By JRL Smith on 2 August 2011

    The Speciality of the House has been my favourite suspense story for many years. This collection is great - Speciality of the House is almost as I remember it, but I recall that it had a bit in the middle which explained the whole thing. It isn't in the collection - but I may have confused it with the Alfred Hitchcock TV interpretation of the story. Nevertheless, the story is great - the other stories in this book are bonuses. I'd have bought it just for the title story.

  • By NJ on 7 August 2006

    I'll be honest: I never really appreciated short stories until I read this collection. The ideas in them always seemed too small and the plots too inconsequential - never provided enough space to explore the themes properly, or even to provide a proper smokescreen on the way to the conclusion. Having read and failed to enjoy the famous short story writers - Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, M.R. James and others - I was ready to give up on the form completely, and only bought this because the completist in me wanted the whole Orion Crime Masterworks collection. Praise be, then, for my fastidious nature, because this anthology of all Ellin's short mysteries has finally opened my eyes.What is so impressive here is the sheer range of topics, approaches and styles, and how successfully Ellin applies himself to them all. That each story starts over with new characters and situations, and that successive stories vary so much in style and content, really allows you to appreciate how intently focussed they all are. From the gloomy and terse "Death on Christmas Eve" to the clockwork accuracy of "The Orderly World of Mr Appleby", Ellin virtually runs the gamut of crime writing, lacking perhaps only a mystery solved by a cat (no bad omission in my mind, and even then there's one about fleas).Some are crime stories that aren't written as crime stories (sounds odd, I know, but trust me) - such as the title story, "The Moment of Decision", "The Question" and especially "The Faith of Aaron Menefee" - while others are written as almost pure crime, like "The Cat's Paw" and "Coin of the Realm". The joy is in not knowing which way Ellin is going to take you at the start of each tale (witness the attention paid to household plants for the first half of "A Corner of Paradise") or precisely where you will end up by the end. I also found Ellin constantly playing with my expectations - such as the way he shifts the focus in "Generation Gap", and the exemplary inside-out nature of "The House Party"; there's even one story in here that I strongly suspect to be a very deliberately-laid joke (and which I think I only half understand!).Now, of course, not every one of the 35 stories here is of the same quality, but the standard is consistently impressively high, and the attention clearly paid to the writing is superb. Best of all, as well as enjoying every story here, I've since returned to Holmes, Father Brown et al and found a lot more joy in them, and I'm not going to argue with that.

  • By Neil Butter on 5 February 2008

    This is an outstanding collection of short stories by a former master of the art. They were written over a number of years and so the quality varies but almost every one of them is intriguing, imaginative and surprising. A "must" for lovers of the short story.

  • By Modman on 20 December 2012

    An excellent re-issue of one of the genre's finest exponents. The title story in particular lives on in the memory.

  • By Beth on 3 February 2016

    Good holiday reading. One story on the plane, one on the beach..etc etc. And great stories too!

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