A generous serving of surprisingly readable short detective/police stories from the second half of the 19th century--not just from England, as the title might suggest, but also from the U.S. (M. D. Post, A. K. Green) and France (a nod to a venerable founding father, Emile Gaboriau). Bleiler supplies a slightly fatuous introduction (""How did the Victorians start it all?""), but his headnotes are likable and properly history-minded--and one must certainly salute his archaeological enterprise: an all-but-unknown Conan Doyle story, tales from the authors of East Lynne and Lady Audley's Secret, a few from ""Anonymous""--25 in all, led off by Dickens' landmark police-work essays, ""Three Detective Anecdotes."" Only Bret Harte's much-anthologized Sherlock Holmes parody seems unworthy, and only one thing seems missing--a story by Poe to put it all in perspective. A worthy volume, then, which is occasionally a source of pleasure (codes, locked rooms, female detectives) as well as historical interest.