In the comments of my post on reality and Golden Age Detective fiction from last Saturday, Harry shared his frustration with the solution to Murder on the Marsh (1930) by John Ferguson — it’s very spoilerific, be warned (though it also sounds terrible, so…) — and I in turn recounted a couple of awful solutions to locked room short stories in sympathy. Because, let’s face it, we’ve all read some stinkers in our time, haven’t we?
My comment, which relates to the stories ‘Murder in Monkeyland’ (2006) by Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg and ‘Three Blind Rats’ (2006) by Laird Long — both published in The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes & Impossible Mysteries (2006) edited by Mike Ashley — runs thus:
Oh, god, you’ve got me thinking back now over what might be my — ahem — favourite awful solution. I think the locked room murder where the method was a tiny remote-controlled miniature fly that was flown into the victim’s nasal passage with some poison on it and then overlooked by the investigators because it was either a) too tiny or b) able to escape the room unobserved when it was opened…or perhaps the “someone who committed a crime was already dead at the time” story where there’s a sort of projection device that is able to perfectly replicate someone else’s face over your own, so they looked like the dead man. Yeah, those were some serious nadirs in this genre (both fairly recent short stories, too, from people who have evidently learned nothing from the hundreds and thousands of brilliant books available to them).
Awful, awful times, I think we can all agree. Well, today is the Bodies from the Library conference at the British Library, where we shall be discussing a lot of what is great about GAD, and I therefore invite those of you who will be unable to attend to share your favourite bad solutions to crime and mystery novels and stories in the comments below. C’mon, get it off your chest, you know it’s been bugging you for aaaaages…
Suffice to say, spoilers are encouraged, and so to preserve safety just in case — someone might plan on readin’ what you’re spoilin’, after all — I suggest giving the title and author at the very top of your comment and then leaving a line or two before venting your spleen.