#770: The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (1940) by Anthony Boucher

Baker Street Irregulars

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God, I needed this. Not that my reading has been hard work of late — I’m keeping within fairly safe ground, the last year having taking its toll on my…everything — but this is the first book I’ve read in a while that has been so damn fun. Remember fun? We used to have it all the time. For 90% of The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (1940) I was swept up in the sheer joy of the ornate, ridiculous planning that goes into a puzzle mystery, in wave after wave of wildly unpredictable developments, and in the excitement of celebrating the voracious fandom the mystery genre excites. For the other 10%…well, we shall get to that in due course.

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#767: Nemesis at Raynham Parva, a.k.a. Grim Vengeance (1929) by J.J. Connington

Raynham Parve

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When recently retired Chief Constable Sir Clinton Driffield heads to the village of Raynham Parva to spend some time with his widowed sister and her two children, he is met by surprises on all sides.  On the drive down he encounters what appears to be the shattering of an Eternal Triangle, then he discovers that his beloved niece Elsie has embarked on a nostrum of a mariage to Vincente Francia, an Argentinian gentleman no-one had ever heard of before. Driffield barely has time to tut disapprovingly before one member of that Triangle turns up dead in suspicious circumstances and, despite his questionable official status, he is called in to consult.

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#765: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #15: Red Snow (2010) by Michael Slade

First TomCat, then John, and then last week Tom Mead mentioned the impossible crime credentials of the writing collective that publishes under he name ‘Michael Slade’, and then the rooster crowed and I realised I’d denied this three times and so should probably do something about it. Thus, today we dive into the world of Special X.

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#764: The Six Queer Things (1937) by Christopher St. John Sprigg

Six Queer Things

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I’m aware that The Six Queer Things (1937) was the seventh and final novel to be published by Christopher St. John Sprigg following his death in the Spanish Civil War, but — having read two of his previous books — its contents belie its status as his final work, marking it out more as an apprentice effort from an earlier stage in his career. Both Death of an Airman (1934) and The Perfect Alibi (1934) sit more comfortably in the Golden Age milieu, where Queer Things is replete with details and developments that would have thrilled the late Victorians but impressed a crowd drunk on Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, and Ellery Queen to a decidedly less marked degree.

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#763: Little Fictions – Death and the Professor [ss] (1961) by E. & M.A. Radford

A surgeon, a policeman, a psychiatrist, a mathematician, and a pathologist walk into a club — the foundation not of some esoteric wit but instead the Dilettante’s Club, a dinner-and-discussion group who meet fortnightly for their own entertainment. And when Professor Marcus Stubbs joins their number, those discussions take a frequent turn into the realm of the impossible crime.

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#761: The Skeleton in the Clock (1948) by Carter Dickson

Skeleton in the Clock

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On the afternoon of November 4th 1927, Sir George Fleet stood unaccompanied on the flat roof of Fleet House and was, as several independent witnesses assert, pushed to his death by invisible hands.  Twenty years later, Scotland Yard receive three anonymous postcards marked “Re: Sir George Fleet” exhorting them to “examine the skeleton in the clock” and asking “what was the pink flash on the roof?” because “evidence of murder is still there”. Enter Chief Inspector Humphrey Masters, dragging the Old Man, Sir Henry ‘H.M.’ Merrivale, in his wake…Merrivale himself having just bought a grandfather clock which has a skeleton suspended inside of it.

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