#202: First Lines of First Impossible Crimes – The Answers!

If you still wish to pit your wits against my “From which novel is this the first line?” quiz of debut impossibilties, do not click to read more as the answers are below.  But you probably figured that from the title of the post, eh?  All the detective fiction is rubbing off on you…

So, then, here goes…

1. To the unwary traveller, Didcot signifies the imminence of his arrival at Oxford; to the more experienced, another half-hour at least of frustration. The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944) by Edmund Crispin

2. It is not without emotion that I begin to relate the extraordinary adventures of Joseph Rouletabille. The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907) by Gaston Leroux

3. The subway train slowed for the Seventy-Seventh Street station, and I nudged Jeff. Sailor, Take Warning! (1946) by Kelley Roos

4. “Telephones,” Algy told himself drowsily, “are the devil.” Whistle Up the Devil (1953) by Derek Smith

5. The crash of the sea on the rocks was the first sound Nancy heard. The Hangman’s Handyman (1942) by Hake Talbot


6. I cannot pretend that there was anything sinister in the atmosphere that evening. Case for Three Detectives (1936) by Leo Bruce

7. …and not least foul among these night-monsters (which may be found even in our pleasant land of France) is a certain shape of evil hue which by ay may not be recognized, inasmuch as it may be a man of favoured looks, or a fair and smiling Woman; but by night becomes a misshaped beast with blood-bedabbled claws. It Walks by Night (1930) by John Dickson Carr

8. I had gone to my room early that night, thinking I might have a pleasant evening with a book. The Fourth Door (1987) by Paul Halter

9. From the Sunday Globe Sketch: DRUG VICTIM’S GHOST WARNS POP STAR AT LONDON COMMUNE SEANCE Black Aura (1974) by John Sladek

10. Bobby Jones teed up his ball, gave a short preliminary waggle, took the club back slowly, then brought it down and through with the rapidity of lightning. Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934) by Agatha Christie


11. “To me,” said [detective name], “a wheel is not a wheel unless it turns.” The American Gun Mystery (1933) by Ellery Queen

12. Lije Baley had just reached his desk when he became aware of R. Sammy watching him expectantly. The Caves of Steel (1953) by Isaac Asimov

13. There were times during the investigation of the case of the Dead Magicians when the New York Police Department’s official attitude toward the infernal arts of witchcraft and sorcery was damnably inconvenient. Death from a Top Hat (1938) by Clayton Rawson

14. In October 1919, I was twenty-five years old and had just been appointed deputy magistrate at the court of Aix-en-Provence. The House That Kills (1932) by Noel Vindry

15. The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Have His Carcase (1932) by Dorothy L. Sayers



I submit Have His Carcase for the Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt 2017 at My Reader’s Block under the category Any Other Weapon, and The Hangman’s Handyman under the category Moon.

2 thoughts on “#202: First Lines of First Impossible Crimes – The Answers!

  1. I got five relying on memory alone. But those were the five easiest to figure out (2, 4, 7, 12, 13) because they mention obvious character names or plot points. So overall I didn’t do very well at all. I got the authors of number 3 and number 10 right, but the wrong book. I also figured that #15 had to be from a woman writer, but couldn’t even guess at who that might be. I’m giving myself two half points for the writers and one quarter point for knowing the sex of the writer for the last one. This gives me the pathetic score of 6.25 out of 15. I’m supposed to be a vintage mystery maven. Sad.

    But while I know all of the writers and the titles chosen, I’ve only read 12 of these books. Not surprising that I didn’t do well at all since most of the twelve I read so long ago that I’m not even clear what they were all about like The Hangman’s Handyman. I vaguely recall the mention of a sea creature and mysterious wet footprints in a kitchen…or maybe I’m just plain hallucinating. The House That Kills was my least favorite book of last year; I wish could completely forget about it. No wonder I missed that one. I thought #14 was a Halter book.

    #5 could have been any Nancy Drew mystery as far as I’m concerned. :^)

    Thanks for this challenge all the same. One of the most original quizzes to crop up in a long while.


    • One of the things I think I enjoy most about this blogging community is how even on something like this — purely an honours thing, with no controls and no way of checking what people actually know — everyone is still honest about what they got. It’s very refreshing, especially in these imagine-conscious times.

      I don’t think I would have got much more than 5 here, and there’s one I haven’t even read (I’m still girding myself for that Sayers; it is such a long book…). Not sure I’d evebn have got the Halter, and I call myself a fan… Can’t remember if there are footprints in The Hangman’s Handyman — you’ve got me thinking of the alien footprint in that Clayton Rawson story — but there’s definitely a sea creature that attacks our hero at one point.

      Thanks for the kind words, and fret not over your recall — too much space taken up with awesome-sounding books that the rest of us are desperate to find is a pretty good trade off, I’d say 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.