Books: Chronicles of Crime

VILLAINY DETECTED (243 pp.)—Edited by Lillian de la Torre—Appleton-Century ($3).

This is a collection of engaging and often touching chronicles of crime in an age (1660-1800) when a petty theft could send an Englishman to the gallows. Editor de la Torre's scholarship is graced with gusto that sometimes falls into archness, but her selections are almost all first-rate. Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift are among the old pamphleteers and balladeers represented; later hands include George Borrow and the Edinburgh lawyer, William Roughead, whom many connoisseurs consider the dean of crime writers. Neither police nor detectives in the modern sense existed...

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