A Moment on the Edge: 100 Years of Crime Stories by Women

( 3 )

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George serves up a century's worth of superb crime fiction penned by women. This veritable all-star team delivers tales of dark deeds that will keep you reading long into the night. Included are these works:

  • "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell
  • The Summer of People" by Shirley Jackson
  • "The Irony of Hate" by Ruth Rendell
  • "Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer
  • "Wild Mustard" by Marcia Muller
  • ...
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A Moment on the Edge: 100 Years of Crime Stories by Women

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth George serves up a century's worth of superb crime fiction penned by women. This veritable all-star team delivers tales of dark deeds that will keep you reading long into the night. Included are these works:

  • "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell
  • The Summer of People" by Shirley Jackson
  • "The Irony of Hate" by Ruth Rendell
  • "Country Lovers" by Nadine Gordimer
  • "Wild Mustard" by Marcia Muller
  • "Murder-Two" by Joyce Carol Oates

A Moment on the Edge is a rare treat not only for fans of crime fiction but also for anyone who appreciates a skillfully written, deftly told story.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In A Moment on the Edge, accomplished and internationally renowned contemporary mystery writer Elizabeth George has collected 26 short mystery/suspense stories that span nearly a century of crime writing, by some of the most respected and compelling women writers of the modern era. Her stated goal is to illustrate the many and varied reasons why women write about crime, assault, and murder, as well as to demonstrate how well they do it.

This compelling collection is arranged chronologically, from the classic "A Jury of Her Peers" written by Susan Glaspell in the early part of the 20th century to Minette Walters's "English Spring -- American Fall," which was completed as the century drew to a close. Between those two temporal extremes, you'll find stories by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and other masters from the British Commonwealth's Golden Age of Mystery, as well as tales by such modern mystery greats as Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton.

You'll also find captivating works by writers generally published outside the mystery genre, including Shirley Jackson, Antonia Fraser, and Joyce Carol Oates. As you read this incredible collection, one thing soon becomes crystal clear: Women writers are as fascinated by those who break society's rules as are the rest of us. And, along the way, Elizabeth George proves her editorial point -- that mystery writers, whether male or female, find the most enduring fame by exploring the unthinkable and the unguessable. That's why it's no mystery that the women writers showcased in A Moment on the Edge are among those whose works will endure longest in the memories and hearts of readers, present and future. Sue Stone

Booklist
“From start to finish, a first-rate anthology.”
Bookreporter.com
“A huge feast of female-authored short crime stories....you’ll find everything from cozies to outright terror.”
New York Sun
"An absolutely first-rate anthology...a thoughtful and intelligent paean to crime fiction."
Denver Post
“A solid selection...the stories themselves speak for the part women have played in the development of the modern mystery.”
--New York Sun
“An absolutely first-rate anthology...a thoughtful and intelligent paean to crime fiction.”
—New York Sun
“An absolutely first-rate anthology...a thoughtful and intelligent paean to crime fiction.”
Booklist
“From start to finish, a first-rate anthology.”
Denver Post
“A solid selection...the stories themselves speak for the part women have played in the development of the modern mystery.”
Bookreporter.com
“A huge feast of female-authored short crime stories....you’ll find everything from cozies to outright terror.”
New York Sun
“An absolutely first-rate anthology...a thoughtful and intelligent paean to crime fiction.”
Publishers Weekly
"Crime is mankind on the edge... stepping out of the norm," Elizabeth George writes in the introduction to her anthology A Moment on the Edge, a wide-ranging collection of crime stories by 20th-century British and American women. Perennial favorites (Dorothy L. Sayers, Marcia Muller) mingle with more mainstream writers (Joyce Carol Oates, Nadine Gordimer). Arranged chronologically, the volume includes sterling examples of both British stories a la Agatha Christie and distinctively American tales, such as Susan Glaspell's stark story of frontier misery, "A Jury of Her Peers," which heads the collection. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In her lively, informative introduction to this collection of 26 stories, mystery author George (A Place of Hiding) ably defends the oft-maligned genre of crime fiction. Starting with Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers" (1917), the chronological arrangement gives the reader a feel for the evolution of crime fiction over the past century. George includes selections by classic mystery writers (Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh); popular contemporary crime writers (Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller); women writers not generally considered crime writers (Nadine Gordimer, Joyce Carol Oates); and lesser-known writers whose tales are among the strongest in the collection (Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Carolyn Wheat). One could quibble with several omissions (P.D. James, Sue Grafton), but George's popularity will ensure fan interest and perhaps introduce readers to some unfamiliar women writers. For most public libraries. Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060588229
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 541,459
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen novels of psychological suspense, one book of nonfiction, and two short story collections. Her work has been honored with the Anthony and Agatha awards, the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, and the MIMI, Germany's prestigious prize for suspense fiction. She lives in Washington State.

Biography

Elizabeth George was happy that her first novel was rejected.

Scratch that. She's happy now. At the time, it wasn't her best day. But the notes from her editor helped her realize that she had written the wrong book and chosen the wrong leading man. She threw out her Agatha-Christie/drawing-room-whodunit model in favor of a more modern police procedural set in the world of Scotland Yard. She promoted a minor character to her leading man, the handsome, aristocratic, Bentley-driving Thomas Lynley. And she invented a partner for him, the blue-collar, foul-mouthed, messy Barbara Havers.

"I was very lucky when the first one was rejected, because the editor explained to me why," George told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "I had written a very Agatha Christie-esque book and she said that wasn't the way it was done. The modern crime novel doesn't have the detective call everyone into the library. It must deal with more topical crimes and the motives must be more psychological because the things you kill for are different now. Things like getting rid of a spouse who won't divorce you, or hiding an illegitimate child, or blackmail over a family scandal -- those are no longer realistic motivations."

And so, in A Great Deliverance, her first published novel, she opens with the decapitated body of a farmer, his blood-splattered daughter holding an ax, the horrified clergyman who happens on to the crime scene, and a rat feasting on the remains. Nope, not in Agatha Christie territory anymore.

George began writing as child when her mother gave her an old 1939 typewriter. When she graduated from high school, she graduated to an electric typewriter. But not until she graduated to a home computer (purchased by her husband in the 1983), did she actually try her hand at a novel. At the time, she was a schoolteacher and had been since 1974. But with the computer in front of her, she has said, it was put-up-or-shut-up time. She finished her first manuscript in 1983. But her first book wasn't published for five more years.

Though the Lynley/Havers novels are set in England -- as are the tales in her first book of short stories, 2002's I, Richard -- George is a Yank, born in Ohio and raised in Southern California. Maintaining a flat in London's South Kensington as a home base for research, George has been an Anglophile since a trip as a teenager to the United Kingdom, where she ultimately found that a British setting better served the fiction that she wanted to write. "The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel," she told Publishers Weekly in 1996, "where you have the emotional aspect of a detective's personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character."

Readers have made her books standard features on the bestseller lists, and critics have noted the psychologically deft motives of her characters and her detailed, well-researched plotting. "A behemoth, staggering in depth and breadth, A Traitor to Memory leaves you simultaneously satisfied and longing for more. It's simply a supreme pleasure to spend time engrossed in this intense, well-written novel," the Miami Herald said in 2001. The Washington Post called 1990's Well-Schooled in Murder " a bewitching book, exasperatingly clever, and with a complex plot that must be peeled layer by layer like an onion." The Los Angeles Times once called her "the California author who does Britain as well as P.D. James." And in 1996, Entertainment Weekly placed George's eighth novel, In the Presence of the Enemy in their fiction top ten list of the year, where she kept company with John Updike, Frank McCourt, Stephen King, and Jon Krakauer.

In her mind, each book begins with the killer, the victim and the motive. She travels to London and stays at her flat there to research locales. And she writes long profiles about what drives her characters psychologically. The kick for the reader isn't necessarily whodunit but why they dun it.

"I don't mind if they know who the killer is," she has said. "I'm happy to surprise them with the psychology behind the crime. I'm interested in the dark side of man. I'm interested in taboos, and murder is the greatest taboo. Characters are fascinating in their extremity not in their happiness."

Good To Know

The original model for Lynley was Nigel Havers, the nobleman and hurdle-jumper in the film Chariots of Fire whose butler placed champagne flutes on the hurdles to keep him from knocking them over. She named Barbara Havers as an homage to the actor.

On page 900 of the rough draft for Deception on His Mind, George changed her mind about the identity of the killer.

George's ex-husband is her business manager.

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    1. Hometown:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Warren, Ohio
    1. Education:
      A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

A Moment on the Edge

100 Years of Crime Stories by Women
By George, Elizabeth

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 0060588217

A Jury of Her Peers

Susan Glaspell

When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away -- it was probably further from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted.

She hated to see things half done; but she had been at that when the team from town stopped to get Mr. Hale, and then the sheriff came running in to say his wife wished Mrs. Hale would come too -- adding, with a grin, that he guessed she was getting scary and wanted another woman along. So she had dropped everything right where it was.

"Martha!" now came her husband's impatient voice. "Don't keep folks waiting out here in the cold."

She again opened the storm-door, and this time joined the three men and the one woman waiting for her in the big twoseated buggy.

After she had the robes tucked around her she took another look at the woman who sat beside her on the back seat. She had met Mrs. Peters the year before at the county fair, and the thing she remembered about her was that she didn't seem like a sheriff 's wife. She was small and thin and didn't have a strong voice. Mrs. Gorman, sheriff 's wife before Gorman went out and Peters came in, had a voice that somehow seemed to be backing up the law with every word. But if Mrs. Peters didn't look like a sheriff 's wife, Peters made it up in looking like a sheriff. He was to a dot the kind of man who could get himself elected sheriff -- a heavy man with a big voice, who was particularly genial with the lawabiding, as if to make it plain that he knew the difference between criminals and non-criminals. And right there it came into Mrs. Hale's mind with a stab, that this man who was so pleasant and lively with all of them was going to the Wrights' now as a sheriff.

"The country's not very pleasant this time of year," Mrs. Peters at last ventured, as if she felt they ought to be talking as well as the men.

Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking. It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees. The men were looking at it and talking about what had happened. The county attorney was bending to one side of the buggy, and kept looking steadily at the place as they drew up to it.

"I'm glad you came with me," Mrs. Peters said nervously, as the two women were about to follow the men in through the kitchen door.

Even after she had her foot on the doorstep, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross the threshold. And the reason it seemed she couldn't cross it now was simply because she hadn't crossed it before. Time and time again it had been in her mind, "I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster" -- she still thought of her as Minnie Foster, though for twenty years she had been Mrs.Wright. And then there was always something to do and Minnie Foster would go from her mind. But now she could come.

The men went over to the stove. The women stood close together by the door. Young Henderson, the county attorney, turned around and said, "Come up to the fire, ladies."

Mrs. Peters took a step forward, then stopped."I'm not -- cold," she said.

And so the two women stood by the door, at first not even so much as looking around the kitchen.

The men talked for a minute about what a good thing it was the sheriff had sent his deputy out that morning to make a fire for them, and then Sheriff Peters stepped back from the stove, unbuttoned his outer coat, and leaned his hands on the kitchen table in a way that seemed to mark the beginning of official business. "Now, Mr. Hale," he said in a sort of semi-official voice, "before we move things about, you tell Mr. Henderson just what it was you saw when you came here yesterday morning."

The county attorney was looking around the kitchen.

"By the way," he said, "has anything been moved?" He turned to the sheriff. "Are things just as you left them yesterday?"

Peters looked from cupboard to sink; from that to a small worn rocker a little to one side of the kitchen table.

"It's just the same."

"Somebody should have been left here yesterday," said the county attorney.

"Oh -- yesterday," returned the sheriff, with a little gesture as of yesterday having been more than he could bear to think of. "When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for that man who went crazy -- let me tell you, I had my hands full yesterday. I knew you could get back from Omaha by today, George, and as long as I went over everything here myself --"

"Well, Mr. Hale," said the county attorney, in a way of letting what was past and gone go, "tell just what happened when you came here yesterday morning."

Mrs. Hale, still leaning against the door, had that sinking feeling of the mother whose child is about to speak a piece. Lewis often wandered along and got things mixed up in a story ...

Continues...

Excerpted from A Moment on the Edge by George, Elizabeth Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
A jury of her peers 1
The man who knew how 27
I can find my way out 45
The summer people 75
St. Patrick's day in the morning 93
The purple is everything 119
Money to burn 133
A nice place to stay 147
Clever and quick 161
Country lovers 177
The irony of hate 189
Sweet baby Jenny 207
Wild mustard 229
Jemima Shore at the sunny 241
The case of the Pietro Andromache 279
Afraid all the time 309
The young shall see visions, and the old dream dreams 327
A predatory woman 349
Jack be quick 363
Ghost station 399
New moon and rattlesnakes 417
Death of a snowbird 437
The river mouth 459
A scandal in winter 475
Murder-two 505
English autumn - American fall 533
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First Chapter

A Moment on the Edge
100 Years of Crime Stories by Women

A Jury of Her Peers

Susan Glaspell

When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away -- it was probably further from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted.

She hated to see things half done; but she had been at that when the team from town stopped to get Mr. Hale, and then the sheriff came running in to say his wife wished Mrs. Hale would come too -- adding, with a grin, that he guessed she was getting scary and wanted another woman along. So she had dropped everything right where it was.

"Martha!" now came her husband's impatient voice. "Don't keep folks waiting out here in the cold."

She again opened the storm-door, and this time joined the three men and the one woman waiting for her in the big twoseated buggy.

After she had the robes tucked around her she took another look at the woman who sat beside her on the back seat. She had met Mrs. Peters the year before at the county fair, and the thing she remembered about her was that she didn't seem like a sheriff 's wife. She was small and thin and didn't have a strong voice. Mrs. Gorman, sheriff 's wife before Gorman went out and Peters came in, had a voice that somehow seemed to be backing up the law with every word. But if Mrs. Peters didn't look like a sheriff 's wife, Peters made it up in looking like a sheriff. He was to a dot the kind of man who could get himself elected sheriff -- a heavy man with a big voice, who was particularly genial with the lawabiding, as if to make it plain that he knew the difference between criminals and non-criminals. And right there it came into Mrs. Hale's mind with a stab, that this man who was so pleasant and lively with all of them was going to the Wrights' now as a sheriff.

"The country's not very pleasant this time of year," Mrs. Peters at last ventured, as if she felt they ought to be talking as well as the men.

Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking. It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees. The men were looking at it and talking about what had happened. The county attorney was bending to one side of the buggy, and kept looking steadily at the place as they drew up to it.

"I'm glad you came with me," Mrs. Peters said nervously, as the two women were about to follow the men in through the kitchen door.

Even after she had her foot on the doorstep, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross the threshold. And the reason it seemed she couldn't cross it now was simply because she hadn't crossed it before. Time and time again it had been in her mind, "I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster" -- she still thought of her as Minnie Foster, though for twenty years she had been Mrs.Wright. And then there was always something to do and Minnie Foster would go from her mind. But now she could come.

The men went over to the stove. The women stood close together by the door. Young Henderson, the county attorney, turned around and said, "Come up to the fire, ladies."

Mrs. Peters took a step forward, then stopped."I'm not -- cold," she said.

And so the two women stood by the door, at first not even so much as looking around the kitchen.

The men talked for a minute about what a good thing it was the sheriff had sent his deputy out that morning to make a fire for them, and then Sheriff Peters stepped back from the stove, unbuttoned his outer coat, and leaned his hands on the kitchen table in a way that seemed to mark the beginning of official business. "Now, Mr. Hale," he said in a sort of semi-official voice, "before we move things about, you tell Mr. Henderson just what it was you saw when you came here yesterday morning."

The county attorney was looking around the kitchen.

"By the way," he said, "has anything been moved?" He turned to the sheriff. "Are things just as you left them yesterday?"

Peters looked from cupboard to sink; from that to a small worn rocker a little to one side of the kitchen table.

"It's just the same."

"Somebody should have been left here yesterday," said the county attorney.

"Oh -- yesterday," returned the sheriff, with a little gesture as of yesterday having been more than he could bear to think of. "When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for that man who went crazy -- let me tell you, I had my hands full yesterday. I knew you could get back from Omaha by today, George, and as long as I went over everything here myself --"

"Well, Mr. Hale," said the county attorney, in a way of letting what was past and gone go, "tell just what happened when you came here yesterday morning."

Mrs. Hale, still leaning against the door, had that sinking feeling of the mother whose child is about to speak a piece. Lewis often wandered along and got things mixed up in a story ...

A Moment on the Edge
100 Years of Crime Stories by Women
. Copyright © by Elizabeth George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific deference to the ladies of crime

    This twenty-six short story collection pays homage to some of the great female mystery-thriller writers of the past century and showcases how brilliant women are at authoring crime tales. The anthology is set up in chronological order starting with the 1917 'A Jury of Her Peers' by Susan Glaspell and ending with a pair of works published in 2001. Most of the works occur in the second fifty years with most of those in the final quarter. Only two entries are pre WWII and in addition only two others comprise the first fifty years. Either Editor Elizabeth George is not familiar with the pioneers or women have come a long way in a quantity sense as the number of distaff authors has exponentially grown since the World War I-Great depression eras.---- The quality of the compilation is top notch as Ms. George has provided a virtual who¿s who with some of their best shorts included in this book. Fans of stories that run the gamut of the mystery-thriller genres but share in common taking the reader to ¿A Moment on the Edge¿ (and in some cases over the edge) will appreciate this terrific deference to the ladies of crime.---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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