There is an argument to be made that genre fiction and sitcoms share a huge amount of DNA: we want them to be the same sort of thing from episode-to-episode or book-to-book, and yet within the repetition of ingredients that define the form we also want something new.Continue reading
The Plague Court Murders (1934), the debut of John Dickson Carr’s sleuth Sir Henry ‘H.M.’ Merrivale and published under his Carter Dickson nom de plume, struck me when I first read it as among the ne plus ultra of locked room mysteries. A decade on, having read much more of Carr’s output, I now see it differently. Carr published five books in 1934, each one now feeling lilke an attempt to work some new wrinkle into his writing. For all the cleverness — and it is very clever — this is really an apprentice work from a man who would go on to do much, much better.
Another week, another brace of stories from Mystery and More Mystery (1966) by Robert Arthur.Continue reading
I had intended to reread The Tiger’s Head (1991) by Paul Halter for my 800th post next Thursday, as it is a permanent toss-up between this and The Madman’s Room (1990) for my favourite of the French maestro’s work thus far translated by John Pugmire. But then everything — everything — I tried to read this week struck me as turgid, tedious, and unbearable, and Ben at The Green Capsule had a wonderful time reading Halter’s The Phantom Passage (2005), and I thought “Why not bring it forward a week and actually enjoy myself for a change?”. So here we are, and I don’t regret it, not even for a moment.
This week, as we dive into two more stories by Robert Arthur from Mystery and More Mystery (1966), I meet the two earliest works of his I’ve yet encountered.Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, a clue turned up in my cryptic crossword — Fictional detective satisfied about a vandalised rig  — and, once I’d solved it, got me thinking. Again.Continue reading
Having recently discussed with Martin Edwards the efforts writers can go to in order to keep things fresh, I can understand how, after five books in three years featuring Sir Clinton Driffield as sleuth, J.J. Connington would fancy a change. This might be unfair to Driffield, however, for the simple fact that the plot Connington cooked up for The Eye in the Museum (1929) is about the dullest thing anyone would put on paper in that decade. With interview after interview after interview after interview, we’re not Dragging the Marsh (© Brad Friedman) so much as dying inside. No, that’s not clever; this book has left me unable to care.
It would be difficult to overstate the respect I have for the work done by Robert Arthur in the mystery genre. From creating The Three Investigators to turning out highly enjoyable fair-play mysteries for younger (and older) readers, the man displayed a brilliant creativity and a talent for diversity that makes every encounter with him a joy.Continue reading
The detective fiction genre is built around the essential structure of a crime, an investigation of that crime, and the revelation of the guilty party who committed the crime, and good heavens didn’t the Golden Age map out a lot of different ways to walk that path. And there are few people better placed to discuss this than President of the Detection Club and recent recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger Martin Edwards, who celebrates three decades as a published author this year.Continue reading