I am reliably informed by the product page on Amazon that I purchased the Kindle edition of The Fourth Door (1987, tr. 1999) — the first Paul Halter novel I ever read — on 19th May 2013. After nearly 6 years, 14 novels, 19 short stories, and 30 blog posts that included a celebration of his 60th birthday I’m going back to the beginning to see where it all began.
Dear Elderly Patriarchs Who Hold the Purse-Strings and Delight in Making Everyone Jump and Dance on Cue: you’d live a lot longer if you stopped gathering your slavishly pecuniary-minded families around you before announcing a surprise amendment to their financial situations. Weren’t you supposed to be captains of industry at some point? Don’t your creators lay it on a bit thick with your business acumen, your cut-and-thrust tactics, and the rapier-like intelligence that resulted in you rising to the top? Gordon’s beer, man, exercise a little nouse; at least change the will and then tell them…
With Paul Halter’s debut novel The Fourth Door (1987) being the subject of my 500th post this coming weekend, it’s time to dive into two more of his short stories from the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
For a book set against the backdrop of a play based on one of Agatha Christie’s most famous works, and featuring a detective the front flap tells us is “unparalleled even by Hercule Poirot”, there’s more than a passing whiff of Ngaio Marsh about this one.
“I am going to kill a man” — it must surely be the most famous opening line in the whole firmament of Golden Age detective fiction, and but for Sherlock Holmes and “the” woman I’d suggest the famousest opening line in all detection ever. When Aidan at Mysteries Ahoy! and I realised we were reading this near-contemporaneously, he kindly agreed to delay his review by a week that we might publish our thoughts as simultaneously as possible — I’ve not read his review as I write this, but I will by the time you’re reading it, and I am fascinated to find out how successfully he feels the game is played after that wonderful opening serve.
My five-hundredth post approacheth — a reread and re-evaluation of The Fourth Door (1987), the debut novel of M. Paul Halter, of whom I am quite the fan — and so Tuesdays in February will focus on the six translated Halter stories featured in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine that have yet to be collected into a second English-language anthology.