Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Vicious Circle: Mystery and Crime Stories by Members of the Algonquin Round Table” as Want to Read:
The Vicious Circle: Mystery and Crime Stories by Members of the Algonquin Round Table
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Vicious Circle: Mystery and Crime Stories by Members of the Algonquin Round Table

3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
With the possible exception of the expatriate writers living in Paris in the 1920s, no single group of American literary figures has achieved as much fame or notoriety as the New York sophisticates who met to match wits and attempt to outshine each other as members of what came to be called the Algonquin Round Table.

The humorists Robert Benchley and S. J. Perelman, playwri
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 10th 2007 by Pegasus Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Vicious Circle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Vicious Circle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAlice in Wonderland by Lewis CarrollMagic America by C.E. MedfordCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Best Eccentric Characters
67th out of 132 books — 74 voters
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldTrapping the Butterfly by Debra ParmleyBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
I am '20s, hear me roar!
201st out of 262 books — 132 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Susan Grodsky
Jan 17, 2014 Susan Grodsky rated it it was amazing
A delightful collection of quick light stories. I gulped down the whole book in less than 24 hours. Only one story, Four and Twenty Blackjacks, by the highly regarded SJ Perelman, failed to hold my attention.

"Haircut" and "Stop Me--If You've Heard This One" both by Ring Lardner, were among my favorites. "Big Blonde" by Dorothy Parker was another standout.

"Haircut" is a wonderful example of the "dumb narrator" device: the narrator tells enough so that you, the reader, understand the events, whil
Amy Formanski Duffy
Jun 05, 2008 Amy Formanski Duffy rated it liked it
The title misled me somewhat. The members of the Algonquin Round Table were known for their wit and sarcasm, and that's what this collection contains. Calling them mystery or crime stories implies that they are serious in tone. Nope. These are goofy mockeries of crime stories.

Here's a quote from a Robert Benchley story:
"Following are the details, such as they are. You may take them or leave them. If you leave them, please leave them in the coat room downstairs and say that Martin will call for
Oct 26, 2016 Tony rated it it was ok
VICIOUS CIRCLE. (2007). Otto Penzler (ed.). **1/2.
The subtitle of this book was, “Mystery and Crime Stories by Members of The Algonquin Round Table.” If you are not familiar with this group that was active mostly during the 1920s, you should fire up your computer and Google them. This was a group of writers – novelists, essayists, and playwrights – that met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York on a regular/irregular basis. What most of them had in common was an incredible level of wit and the fact
Feb 09, 2016 Colleen rated it liked it
I was excited when I found this book, since I love the Algonquin Round Table authors and it contains an interesting selection of short stories. Was especially pleased that Marc Connelly is included, because I've never read anything of his before.


The book contains an introduction like all the collections of the various members of Algonquin Group. Why they add these introductions I don't know--b/c they're all the same. Petty, idiotic and negative. I've yet to read any anthology where I
Oct 30, 2010 KristenR rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I recently read Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin. While browsing the stacks at the library I was pleased to find this collection of short stories featuring some of the authors mentioned in that book.

I would love to find a short story collection where I liked everything that was included...probably will never happen. This is actually a 3.5 star book, but I couldn't bring myself to bump it up to 4. As usual there were stories I just didn't like, though the following were my favorites in this anthology
Oct 25, 2012 Alvin rated it liked it
Much as I revere the wits of the Algonquin round table (and I revere them a heckuva lot!) I'm forced to say this was a mixed bag of goods, none of which quite fit together. A few of the stories silly to the point of stupid (I'm looking at you Robert Benchley!) while the majority were fine, if rather slight. The two stand outs were Dorothy Parker, whose story was great (even if it wasn't actually a crime story but a mini-saga of keening existential despair), and Edna Ferber, whose story was so ...more
Feb 05, 2012 April rated it liked it
Cute little book and an easy read. It's a nice idea, collecting short stories and mysteries from regulars around the Algonquin Round Table. My favorite parts were the introductory description of the Algonquin Table and the quotes collected from each author(most of the stories themselves are not that great). But who wouldn't love S.J. Perelman's quote after buying rural property in Bucks Co., PA, "A farm is an irregular patch of nettles bound by short-term notes, containing a fool and his wife ...more
Dec 30, 2014 Amy rated it liked it
Mysteries and crime tales from various authors of the Algonquin Round Table. I thought "The Mystery of the Poisoned Kipper" was hilarious (my sister didn't get it), "Big Blond" depressing and too long (she skipped it altogether), and "Stop Me - If You've Heard This One" pretty funny (she didn't make it that far).
"Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer" was weird.
Some gems, some odd balls. Not what I'd recommend as an introduction to the group
Apr 29, 2012 Judy rated it it was ok
Short stories by members of the Algonquin Round Table including Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, Marc Connelly, George Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Alexander Wollcott, and Dorothy Parker. These short stories were collected and edited by Otto Penzler the owner of Mysterious Bookstore in New York City and the founder of the Mysterious Press. True to the reputation of the Round Table, these stories were more humorous than mysterious.
Lynne Pennington
Nov 18, 2015 Lynne Pennington rated it did not like it
Shelves: mysteries
I really wanted to like this book. I liked the premise and have been intrigued for ages about the Algonquin Round Table. With a couple of exceptions, I felt these stories did not age well. Good thing these famous writers have a whole body of work upon which to judge them since the stories in this book would do them no favors, in my opinion.
The Murderist
Jan 06, 2010 The Murderist rated it really liked it
The Good: The sheer force of talent at work in these stories is fantastic. Wit has never been sharper or more biting. A great primer to the work of those who participated in the Algonquin Round Table.

The Bad: Few of these stories are actually mysteries. Racist attitudes pop up occasionally (though they are not out of place considering the era).
Jul 13, 2015 Harvey rated it liked it
- widely varied, in both quality and style, this quirky collection was still a worthwhile read
- featuring: Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, George S. Kaufman, and Alexander Woolcott
- what I wouldn't give to have experienced an afternoon having lunch and drinks with these Round Table characters...
Liz De Coster
Feb 09, 2009 Liz De Coster rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Some of the stories were better than others, but the real problem was that they were all so short. I would rather have had fewer authors featured, but longer stories. The stories - mostly about 5-10 pages - aren't enough to give a real impression of the authors' styles.
Carole Prior
Aug 04, 2011 Carole Prior rated it really liked it
Once again, insight into the personal characteristics of the members of the Algonquin Round Table, though this is a collection of their individual mysteries several of them have written. Each story has a rather unique and fascinating turn of events to keep you guessing.
Oct 06, 2009 Maureen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, short-stories
always love reading stories by ring lardner, and dorothy parker. realized how much i don't enjoy perelman. some of it was tedious, and as another review suggests, they're not really crime stories, but hey, its a nice visit with a bunch of witty people.
Sep 07, 2011 Laurel rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2011
The editor's introduction was most accurate, "The stories in this collection range from the silly and lightweight to the poignant and profound." I found most of them silly and lightweight. The two Ring Lardner stories and the one Dorothy Parker were the best of the bunch.
May 31, 2014 dianne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific, often silly, stories (except Four and Twenty Blackjacks - skip that one; it doesn't get better). Especially loved Big Blonde.
Mar 17, 2014 David rated it liked it
Most stories told with an odd humor. Dorothy Parker's "Big Blonde" is the best, if a little depressing.
Carol Ann
Jun 03, 2010 Carol Ann rated it really liked it
I would love to have been able to sit at the round table from time to time. I love the wit and cynicism that abounded.
Sep 06, 2013 Liz rated it did not like it
I disliked almost every single one of the 12 short stories in this anthology. I was disappointed to say the least.
Alan Cook
Jan 12, 2011 Alan Cook rated it liked it
The funniest stories in the collection are by S. J. Perelman. I was somewhat disappointed by Dorothy Parker's story. It wasn't funny and it didn't seem to be particularly literary.
Jennifer Heise
Jun 18, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it liked it
A selection of crime stories by the sort of writers I love(d) to read.
Dorothy Parker's broke one's heart. Warning, though: these people drink like fish.
Karla rated it it was ok
Apr 11, 2010
Mary rated it it was ok
Oct 22, 2014
Jason rated it did not like it
Oct 29, 2011
Vickie rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2012
Grace D
Grace D rated it liked it
Mar 07, 2014
Carl rated it did not like it
May 09, 2015
Dee Dee
Dee Dee rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2014
Billy Stinkwater
Billy Stinkwater rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2014
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

Penzler has won two Edgar Awards, for The Encycl
More about Otto Penzler...

Share This Book