Hardly any of Saki’s short stories, which fill five volumes, can be regarded as works of detective fiction in the more limited sense of the term. Many of his brilliantly crafted, deeply sarcastic pieces, however, deal with the criminal impulse of humankind. In direct contrast to the classic hero of detective fiction, who tries to restore order by abolishing the chaos let loose by antisocial impulses, Saki’s mischievous protagonists arrive on the scene to wreak havoc on victims who have invited their tormentors out of folly or a streak of viciousness of their own. Nevertheless, Saki’s insistence on a masterfully prepared surprise ending demonstrates the closeness in form of his short stories to detective fiction as this genre was understood by its fathers, preeminently Edgar Allan Poe. Moreover, as powerful elements in a poignant satire on society, Saki’s criminal protagonists can claim descent from the heroes of Restoration playwrights William Congreve and William Wycherley and precede some of the post-hard-boiled detectives such as Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently.