Well, who’d’ve thought it, eh? Philip MacDonald first featured in my reading life in 1-star ignominy, and here he is not just beating all-comers to feature my 400th blog post, but doing so with a book that I — against my better judgement, nature, and previous standards — unabashedly loved with every fibre of my being. Quite the turnaround, and part of why I persevere with intially-disappointing authors. Just to clear something up from the off: no, I would not classify this as an impossible crime, despite its inclusion on the Ronald Lacourbe list being what brought it to my attention in the first place, but that’s hardly the first time this has happened….
After the disappointment of last week’s ‘The Adventure of the Dead Cat’ (1946) not actually being an impossible crime story, I return this week to Calendar of Crime (1952) by Ellery Queen for the final story in the collection, Christmastime impossible theft ‘The Adventure of the Dauphin’s Doll’ (1948). Let’s hope we fare a little better this time around, eh?
A brief search of the interwebs reveals that David Beckham has thirty, Britney Spears twenty-three, Christina Aguilera fifteen, Beyoncé fourteen, Katy Perry 9, and Ariana Grande a mere 5 — it’s not my area of expertise, however, so some of those numbers may be a little out.
Whatever I thought of this book, I was committed to reading more of Dorothy Blair and Evelyn Page’s Roger Scarlett mysteries as I had already bought volume 2 of the Coachwhip reissues — comprising the novels Cat’s Paw (1931) and Murder Among the Angells (1932). Impetuous? I prefer optimistic: the promise on display in their debut augured well for their future, and I believed remuneration would be found somewhere in these pages. So it’s either my own foresight or my stubborn inability to admit a mistake that sees me having a hugely enjoyable time with this one…I shall leave it to the reader to choose.
Sometimes you go through every story in a collection and review them all. Sometimes you just want to talk about one of them. To engage in the second of these on a more thematic basis, I shall use my Tuesday posts this month to launch an occasional series of Little Fictions posts, and spend June with some of the impossible crime short stories written by Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee under their Ellery Queen nom de plume.
I can’t claim to’ve watched swathes of the TV series Monk — starring the wonderfully talented Tony Shalhoub as the eponymous consultant to the San Francisco Police Department — but I always enjoyed its creativity when I did catch it (an episode in which a musical birthday card contributes to the solving of a crime stands out in my memory).
I maintain that the Doug Selby novels of Erle Stanley Gardner stand as probably his best work, and only the genius of Raymond Burr, that awesome theme music, and the fact that the Perry Mason novels outnumber the Selby ones by a mind-blowing 9:1 ratio have led to the relative obscurity of this better series. “What about the Cool and Lam books?” you want to know? Well, as soon as I’m done with Selby I’m going to go and read all 30 of those in order, too, because probably two-thirds of them eluded me back when I started reading Gardner and so there are plenty of gaps to fill. So officially the jury is still out, but the Selby books remain fabulous nonetheless.