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Reader, I Buried Them & Other Stories

Review

Reader, I Buried Them & Other Stories

I’ve always been partial to British mystery authors, whose whimsical styles and types of crimes differ from the gun-toting, gangland shoot ’em ups of American writers. The Brits tend to kill people off in such quirky ways. Poisons are a popular method --- any number of confusing types of mushrooms, undetectable chemicals, powders secreted in handkerchiefs or shirt cuffs. Some are macabre, and haunted houses were a favorite theme of Ruth Rendell, who took fellow British writer Peter Lovesey under her wing and encouraged him to continue writing in his early days.

It's been 10 years since I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Lovesey’s Peter Diamond, a reluctant mall cop who eventually became a detective and starred in 20 tidy little mysteries. I’ve reviewed a few of them and read many others for my own enjoyment.

"My favorite droll tale is 'Agony Column,' which reminded me of Ann Landers’ advice columns.... I am happy to say [that READER, I BURIED THEM] is a fun read for any mystery buff."

In READER, I BURIED THEM, Lovesey appears to have thumbed through his notebooks and filing cabinets to find some of his early pieces. A musician might call them “noodling” around on a keyboard --- experimenting with an idea or concept to see if it would develop into something worthy. Here, he offers up 18 short stories, some merely a few pages long. Many ended up in various publications, and three are brand new.

The most absorbing piece is “The Bathroom,” a bizarre tale based on an actual crime that is later detailed in “The Tale of Three Tubs.” Three brides mysteriously drowned in bathtubs between 1912 and 1915 in locales as far removed from each other as Herne Bay, Blackpool and Highgate. The guilty party was George Joseph Smith, a bigamist who was hanged for the murders. The tubs ended up in various museums for nearly a century because of the diabolical nature of the crimes. Jack the Ripper immediately came to mind as I was immersed in this shocking story.

My favorite droll tale is “Agony Column,” which reminded me of Ann Landers’ advice columns. A woman who calls herself “Neglected” writes to Dr. Wisefellow that her husband, Hamish, isn’t paying attention to her and disappears every evening. She is becoming suspicious of his activities and is even on the verge of calling the police.

After a fair amount of back and forth between them, Dr. Wisefellow responds that there is no need to go to the authorities. “I can now set your fears at rest…. Hamish is becoming a crime writer. A peculiar condition, but not usually dangerous. Soon you will find that he gives up those long walks and starts shutting himself away in a place of isolation, like the garden shed or an attic. If you pass anywhere near, you may hear a tapping sound, or, more likely, shouts of “Blast!” as paper is screwed up and thrown across the room.” Following this warning, the good doctor advises her to stay out of his way. It isn’t easy being married to a crime writer, but it certainly can have its exciting moments.

The same can be said for READER, I BURIED THEM, which I am happy to say is a fun read for any mystery buff.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on February 18, 2022

Reader, I Buried Them & Other Stories
by Peter Lovesey

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1641293616
  • ISBN-13: 9781641293617