#515: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #10: Angel Killer (2014) by Andrew Mayne

Angel Killer

The appeal of detective fiction and impossible crime novels for me is their potential for elegance, for taking something that seems utterly baffling and rendering it clear through intelligent deployment of a few key ideas.  This achieved peak density during the Golden Age, which is why that era earned that sobriquet, and it feels like it’s been downhill ever since.

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#514: About the Murder of a Startled Lady (1935) by Anthony Abbot

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This is another title brought to my attention via the Roland Lacourbe-curated list of one hundred (well, 114) notable impossible crime novels.  If I’m honest, I still don’t know what to make of that list — containing as it does some wonderful books that aren’t impossible crimes, some poor books that aren’t impossible crimes, and some thoroughly glorious impossible crimes that would otherwise have passed me by.  This one is…fine.  While the impossibility isn’t up to much, there’s enough interest in the approach taken to commend it if you can find a copy.  Would I put it among the hundred best, however?  Er, no…

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#512: Policeman’s Lot – Ranking the Edward Beale Novels of Rupert Penny

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Thanks to the recent reprints by Ramble House, a few years ago I discovered the Chief Inspector Edward Beale books written by Ernest Thornett under the nom de plume Rupert Penny.  Puzzle-dense and complex beyond belief, they were a joy to my pattern-obsessed brain and, having now read all eight of them, my mind immediately moves to the concept of placing them in a hierarchy.

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#511: The Stingaree Murders (1932) by W. Shepard Pleasants

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Thirteen people — a publisher and his two grown children, a newspaper editor, a retired General and his wife, a career politician and his bodyguard, a scientist, a lawyer, two servants, and our Everyman narrator — on a houseboat in the Louisiana bayou, intent on a few days of fishing, swimming, and relaxation. Though, naturally, the worries of everyday life never really vanish: a threat against the state Governor hangs over his head, as does his professional association with the scientist, which seems a little strained. With just enough time to get complacent, tragedy strikes, and then there were twelve. And then there were eleven…

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