#730: The Lost Gallows (1931) by John Dickson Carr

Lost Gallows, The

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It’s rather a coup of scheduling that the British Library opted to reissue this November-set second case for Henri Bencolin in November 2020, because there’s something distinctly eerie the fog-shrouded, darkening streets of the London of John Dickson Carr’s second novel The Lost Gallows (1931) that would, one feels, be lost if read in the blistering July sunshine (yes, thank-you, the Southern Hemisphere). Indeed, I enjoyed this one more at this second reading than I thought I would — in part because Carr’s melodrama doesn’t hit me so hard second time around, but I’m also going to cite “tis the season” as a definite factor.

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#728: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #15: The Devil and the Dark Water (2020) by Stuart Turton

While I don’t quite share the optimism of my fellow impossible crime aficionado TomCat that a second Golden Age of detective fiction is on the horizon, there can be no denying that some great neo-orthodox detective novels have been written in recent years by the likes of James Scott Byrnside, Anthony Horowitz, and (with a heavy emphasis on the neo) Stuart Turton.

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#727: The Dain Curse (1929) by Dashiell Hammett

Dain Curse

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Doubtless on account of my predilection for typically British novels of detection, I have somehow fostered the mistaken reputation of one who dislikes the Hardboiled school.   I mean, I named Jim Thompson one of the four most important male authors in crime fiction, have heaped praise on James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, both Ross and John D. MacDonald, and the Cool & Lam books of Erle Stanley Gardner, but still there lingers an air of distrust whenever I step away from the Venetian vase of the drawing room and into the mean streets. So let’s look to The Dain Curse (1929) to exemplify a lot of the good that the subgenre has to offer.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 13: Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World (2020) by Mark Aldridge [w’ Mark Aldridge]

This year’s celebrations of the centenary of Hercule Poirot’s debut and, arguably, the dawn of the Golden Age of Detection have obviously been overshadowed by wider events, but there’s still much to celebrate — not least of which is a new book about Poirot from Mark Aldridge.

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#724: The 12.30 from Croydon, a.k.a. Wilful and Premeditated (1934) by Freeman Wills Crofts

12.30 from Croydon

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The writing of an inverted mystery must surely bring with it a certain amount of release.  Your typical detective novel, after all, keeps the villain, their motives, their opportunity, and oftentimes their method occluded from the reader whilst ideally also dropping all manner of subtle hints about them, where the inverted mystery — in which we know the criminal and their motivation from the off, see the crime committed, and must then watch the detective figure it out — removes every single one of these difficulties, requiring only the investigation which would have happened in a ‘straight’ novel of detection anyway.

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#721: The Chinese Parrot (1926) by Earl Derr Biggers

Chinese Parrot

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On Tuesday I looked at Ronald Knox’s omni-misquoted admonishment against detective fiction writers using the ‘sinister Chinese’ stereotype to furnish their villainous plots, so the ground is primed to explore here the other end of that spectrum with the Intuitively Sagacious Minority Written by a Non-Minority Author. And given that the Chinese character Charlie Chan had the era-dense misfortune to be played in some 40 films by two white Americans, there’s a certain anticipatory screwing your courage to the mast before you embark on the books of wondering just how forgiving you’re going to have to be.

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