No-one is more surprised than me to find self-published fiction forming a fairly regular part of my online book-scouting. The experience of reading Matt Ingwalson’s Owl and Raccoon novellas was quite transformative in my perception of this stream of literature, and recently stumbling into Robert innes’ prolific and entertaining output only strengthens my intention to keep digging.
Several candidates had presented themselves this time around, including The Play of Light and Shadow (2004) by Barry Ergang, but TomCat got to it before me, and The Patricide (2016) by Kim Ekemar, but Aidan ran an eye through that one first. Not that I’m averse to reviewing something already reviewed elsewhere — quite the reverse, else no-one is going to be able to talk about it — and both those works sound very interesting indeed and shall feature in this series in due course, but with so much self-published fiction coming onto the market every week it’s nice to turn the light on someone not yet examined by our coterie. All of which brings us to The Murder of Nora Winters (2016) by Robert Trainor.
Robert Trainor is another prolific self-published author, with several titles to his name across something of a spread of genres. I’ll be honest, even had he not written an impossible crime I’d’ve been somewhat intrigued by the following in his author bio:
What I am attempting to do in my books, besides writing entertaining and original plots, is to present themes and dilemmas that are thought provoking and don’t have any easy, simplistic answers. I do my very best to fairly present both sides of an issue–such as having a negative character express my own personal views, while a more positive character will express intelligent opposition to those views. All of this occurs, of course, in relation to the plots that are contained in the books, which are intended to mirror or illustrate the underlying philosophy.
I mean, that’s a pretty interesting stall to set out from the very beginning. From a scan of his synopses this would appear to be his only impossible crime story to date, and quite a doozy it sounds:
On Christmas morning, Nora Winters is found shot to death in her bedroom. … The police are completely baffled by the case because it has all the elements of a classic locked-room murder mystery. The only door to the room has a deadbolt and two sliding steel bolts that are fully engaged; the two windows are securely locked from the inside of the room; and after an extensive and thorough investigation, no hidden panels in the floor, walls, or ceiling can be found. Sure, Nora Winters might have let her killer into her bedroom, but how did he leave? And the gun…the very puzzling position of the gun. Why had it been left behind two books at the far end of the room?