July 18, 2017

Cocktail Talk: The Sting of the Wasp

Image result for The World’s Best 100 Detective Stories volume 1I recently picked up a little book (just a little too big to fit in a shirt pocket) called The World’s Best 100 Detective Stories – my book is volume one of ten – published in 1929. I won’t say that I disagree with an editor’s prerogative, but even as someone who has read a lot of detective fiction from many time periods, I hadn’t heard of many of the authors within, and wasn’t blown away by some of the choices. But it’s a fun little book to have no matter what, and in one of the stories, “The Sting of the Wasp,” by Richard Connell, there’s a fair amount of cocktail-ing, before a murder. Or is it?

“Well, the cocktails warmed up Oakley, made him communicative – for him. We were talking along about nothing in particular, when suddenly he burst out, ‘That cur, Cope! I saw him today, looking at me with those evil green eyes of his. I’ll never be happy – or safe – while he’s in the world. I’d kill him like a rat if I thought I could get away with it!’

I told Oakley he was a fool to talk like that – to me or anybody. He calmed down, and said he didn’t mean it. But he did, Matthew.”

“No doubt. Well, what them?”

“Here is what happened tonight: Oakley had dinner alone. He drank too much – four stiff cocktails, a half-bottle of Sauternes, and a highball.”

–Richard Connell, “The Sting of the Wasp”

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