After watching detective fiction play out in the drawing rooms of ivory towers for too long, I’m heading into the mean streets to get some grease under my nails, a shiv waved in my face, and probably a cosh to the back of my head. Thankfully, Sergio, who oversaw a great deal of this stuff in books and on film at Tipping My Fedora has consented to accompany me and keep me as safe as he can.Continue reading
I first read The Red Right Hand (1945) by Joel Townsley Rogers about a decade ago — maybe more, maybe less, it’s fitting given the nature of the narrative herein that I’m a little hazy on the precise details. I’m unsure how it came to my attention, but I do know that I had expected a traditional suspects-murder-investigation-solution structure and that, when the book absolutely did not deliver this, it proved to be a frustrating read. This reissue by the American Mystery Classics range, then, was to be celebrated for a chance to re-evaluate the novel — my previous copy having gone who knows where — knowing what I was getting. And, well, it is still a frustrating read.
Picture the scene: it is 1946 and T.C.H. Jacobs is discussing his next novel with his agent, lamenting “So many types of detective story have successful during this Golden Age, in what style should I write? Some scientific detection? A police procedural? A pulpy shocker? Should I have an amateur detective? A gentleman detective? A criminal gang?” and his agent leans forwards slowly, steeples his fingers, and says simply, “Yes”.Continue reading
There’s so much depth in Golden Age detective fiction — it was a golden age, after all, irrespective of how narrow you make the window of admissible dates — that one could never read everything. Instead, we must find 60 or so authors who interest us, and hope to get a good coverage elsewhere. Well, if you’ve yet to read Baroness Emmuska Orcy’s Old Man in the Corner stories, I urge you to start as soon as possible.Continue reading
When a wealthy businessman bestows his fortune upon a lowly member of his household to the chagrin of his rapacious offspring, you can bet your bottom dollar that some heads are going to (sometimes literally) roll. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019) might be the only time this setup hasn’t resulted in a bloodbath, but The Inugami Curse (1951) by Seishi Yokomizo is from further up the scale. Old sins and their long shadows will get a good airing as stabbings, poisonings, decapitations, stranglings, and even some homicidal wordplay get a murderous field trip to remember. It is, to say the very least, memorable.
The joy of running this blog comes not from the screaming fans that hound my every step, nor the piles of untaxable cash that seemed to just appear from day one, but from the discussions it and others allow me to have with like-, and sometimes unlike-, minded enthusiasts of Golden Age detective fiction. What to do, then, when I have a book that probably no-one is going to want to talk about?Continue reading
Let’s get the new year off to a happy start by showing some appreciation for contemporary authors who make life difficult for themselves by upholding the traditions of Golden Age detective fiction in their own works. And, if you want to discuss modern detective fiction, few are better-placed than Puzzle Doctor, a.k.a. Steve from In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.Continue reading
2020 will linger in the memory for many reasons, but I’m going to try to remember it as the year in which I discovered the joy of R. Austin Freeman’s Dr. John Thondyke. I had previously read, and entirely forgotten about, the impossible crime short story ‘The Aluminium Dagger’ (1909), but it is the novel Mr. Pottermack’s Oversight (1930) — the plot of which is proposed by Thorndyke herein, anticipating Agatha Christie’s use of the same foreshadowing in The A.B.C. Murders (1936) of Cards on the Table (1936) — that I shall consider my first bread with Freeman. And As a Thief in the Night (1928) caps an invigorating year of author-discovery.
You may find yourself helplessly mired in the post-Christmas, pre-New Year hinterland of nothingness; I am here to help. Firstly, if it’s not Tuesday where you are, it will be soon. We shall get through this together. Here are some quick thoughts on Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace (1969) to get you functional again.Continue reading
To further reinforce the message of staying in and making your own fun this Winter, let’s return to the parlour game-esque antics of The Baffle Book (1930) and see what mental gymnastics the third quarter has in store for us.Continue reading