For once, I, on my blog typically concerned with titles from some 60 to 80 years ago, am allowing external factors to influence me here. Not just in looking at a book published during my own lifetime (thathappensnotinfrequently) but one that’s been in the news of late, too.
For now, like, the fourth time in my experience — and the second involving a book by Philip MacDonald — the Roland Lacourbe-curated list of 100 excellent impossible crime novels has disgorged a title which is not in any way an impossible crime. I’m still fully capab- (hang on, carry the one…then minus…yup, you’re good) fully capable of enjoying a book which is sans-impossibility, but I find it weird that a list compiled by such eminent heads includes so many books that don’t qualify. The simplicity of MacDonald’s own narratives should be a giveaway anyway, since he’s really not about the complexities or misdirection, sticking more to a simpler, thriller-tinged path.
Well, c’mon, as if I’m going to do a month of self-published impossible crime fiction posts and not feature Robert Innes. Spotlight (2017) is the fifth of currently nine Blake Harte mysteries, all built around impossible crimes, and this time there are two impossibilities to contend with.
You’ve heard of Elephants Can Remember (1972): it’s the final time Hercule Poirot investigates a case at Agatha Christie’s direction, written in the final stretch of her career when everything she did was awful and without merit. Not even I could find something positive to say about it…could I?
Thanksgiving evening, Sheriff Rex Brandon receives a call from a contrite drunk claiming to have stolen a car, and heads over to pick him up along with D.A. Doug Selby. Arriving too late to prevent an accident in which the man is killed, a chance observation by Selby leads to an identity different to one the man had claimed This in turn brings Brandon and Selby to Carmen Freelman, who had been called away from dinner with her new husband’s family that evening by her boss…who just happens to be the man killed in the crash. So run the first twenty-four pages of The D.A. Calls a Turn (1944) by Erle Stanley Gardner. Strap in for a wild ride…