No, Christmas isn’t for another two months, but it’s been a tough year and so here’s a gift to get you through the darkening days (yes, thank-you, the Southern Hemisphere…): Brad and Moira discussing The Murder at the Vicarage (1930) by Agatha Christie. And I’m there, too, of course. You can’t win ’em all.Continue reading
I really should not have enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club (2020) as much as I did. I’m an avowed devotee of the rigour of Freeman Wills Crofts and I have a nerdy podcast where we get far too serious about the minutiae of classic era detective fiction, for pity’s sake — a lightly comedic crime novel in which a group of septuagenarians inveigle their way into a murder investigation while worrying about the quality of supermarket own-brand biscuits should not raise from me even a curious eyebrow. And yet, honestly, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve been this charmed in years, and I haven’t laughed so much and so helplessly since reading Catch-22 (1961) when I was about 17.
Okay, where to start with this one?Continue reading
Elspeth Huxley’s Murder on Safari (1938) used its uncommon milieu and the author’s own experiences of life in Kenya as a young girl to enrich what might have otherwise been a ham-handed attempt to introduce some ‘variety’ into the annals of detective fiction. Its reliance on the trappings of safari life, and on the general ignorance of her policeman Superintendent Vachell to introduce the unfamiliar aspects to the reader, worked well with some unusual clues to mark it out as a very accomplished piece of detective fiction…right up until the reveal of the killer, when it all sort of fell apart. And lightning, it seems, has struck twice…
Recently, while recording an episode of the rightly-popular Shedunnit podcast, I was moved to lament the decline in quality represented by most modern attempts at the impossible crime in fiction (and, for all I know, in reality, too). Today’s self-published crime novel, Ill Wind (2020) by Jean Heller, perhaps demonstrates the reasons for that decline better than I’ve previously managed myself.Continue reading
Three years. That’s how long ago TomCat’s review of The Case of the April Fools (1933) typified Christopher Bush’s writing as falling “halfway between Freeman Wills Crofts and John Dickson Carr”. So I read the oft-celebrated Cut-Throat (1932) and didn’t really get on with it and then, to be honest, other books intruded and I simply never got back to Bush. I wasn’t avoiding him, per se, and Dean Street Press had gamely recommended Bush’s twentieth novel The Case of the Green Felt Hat (1939) as possibly more to my liking…but, in these reprint-rich times, it can be difficult to keep up, y’know?
In 2019 the Marvel Cinematic Universe reached its culmination in Avengers: Endgame, somewhat overshadowing the fact that Rob Innes’ 10-book Blake Harte series was also about to pay off in this, the first novel-length entry.Continue reading
It’s fair to say that no-one has done more for the curation of John Dickson Carr’s work than Douglas G. Greene: collecting various obscure short pieces in the likes of The Door to Doom and Other Detections (1980), Merrivale, March, and Murder (1991), and Fell and Foul Play (1991), writing the staggeringly comprehensive (and recently reprinted) biography The Man Who Explained Miracles (1995), and enabling, through Crippen & Landru, publication of two — soon to be three — collections of Carr’s radio scripts edited by Tony Medawar.Continue reading