This is a collection of shorter pieces by Wilkie Collins, author of The Woman in White and The Moonstone. I recently read his early novella A Rogue’s Life. These stories are for the most part from the same era as that novella.
The lead story here is “The Dead Hand” and at first I thought it was going to be a kind of cheap thrill of a story. A man goes to a hotel off the main road and is offered a solid, if suspicious, deal on a bed for the night. As he inspects the room, there’s another man asleep in the bed in the room already, and I quickly was like “ok, the dude is going to be dead” and he was. But that was merely the setup of the longer story. This man then gets brought back to life by a doctor friend and the focus of the story is not the horror of the original conceit but the followthrough life and times of the original man, the resurrected man, and doctor who performs it.
In the other primary story, “Who Killed Zebede?”, we are presented with the titular question, as you might have guessed, and are treated to an early example of a detective story. Poe of course is credited in his own way for the fullest early realization of the detective story, but as is the case in The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins is also an early adopter of that story. This one sets the tone for many to come, including the invocation of the audience to way in on the guilty party through the narrator’s storytelling.
The other stories are also fine, but less leaving of an impression.