Verdict of 13 (1978)

VerdictOf13I’m a big fan of Christianna Brand, considering her not only one of the best puzzle plotters of the Golden Age, but also a top writer of dialogue.  Up to this point, I’ve focused on her novels with the exception of her excellent short story Twist for Twist (which I really should get around to reviewing at some point).  Her short story collections are incredibly difficult to come by in physical form for a reasonable price, but patience has led to me snatching up Brand X and Buffet for Unwelcome Guests rather cheap.  The latter is notable for containing a bibliography towards the rear which lists out all of her short stories (the contents of which seems to have lately made its way to wikipedia).  While skimming through the list of short stories, it caught my eye that a dozen or so weren’t included in any of the Brand short story collections.  It’s the uncollected story Cloud Nine that led me to Verdict of 13.

This anthology was assembled by Julian Symons, who at the time was the president of the famed Detection Club.  Each story within the anthology was written by a member of the club specifically for the anthology, as opposed to this being a collection of pre-existing works.  That makes this an interesting collection, as you’re getting original stories by names as notable of Symons, Brand, Michael Gilbert, Michael Innes, and Ngaio Marsh.  Most of these stories have been published in other collections since, although three seem to still be exclusively available here.

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