Guilty Pleasures: Seriously Sinister Fictional Villainy


At over 900 pages our core book of stories is, in the words of one reviewer, "a monument to bad behavior . . . equally impossible to pick up and put down." We start with the Victorians—with Bram Stroker's "Dracula's Guest"—and end up with truly nasty moderns such as "Too Many Crooks" by Donald Westlake. In between we cross paths with 19th-century Americans (the apparently innocent Washington Irving's "Story of a Young Robber"), Edwardians ("The Hammerpond Park Burglary" from H.G. Wells), early 20th-century Americans ("The Willow Walk" by Sinclair Lewis), between-the-world-wars writers (Ben Hecht, "The Fifteen Murderers"), and pulp era classics (including "After-Dinner Story" by William Irish, otherwise known as Cornell Woolrich and the source for Alfred Hitchcoks's Rear Window and two films by François Truffaut).

Wait! There's more! We can't forget post-war/not quite modern notables such as Earl Stanley Gardner ("The Cat-Woman") and Robert Fish ("Sweet Music"). 

Weekly Topics

The core anthology reprints 72 stories. The length of the SDG—7, 10, or 14 weeks—should be determined by the curriculum and coordinating committees. The actual selection of stories is up to the coordinator and co-ordinator. 


Otto Penzler, ed., The Big Book of Rogues and Villains (Vintage/Black Lizard, 2017), $16 paperback, $13 Kindle.