#438: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #8: The Magic Bullet (2011) by Larry Millett

Magic Bullet

I shall eventually abandon any pretence that my occasional forays into post-1990 impossible crime novels are purely for the benefit of my fellow impossible crime enthusiast TomCat, but not just yet.  So let’s all take a moment to bask in how selfless I am, reading books I have no interest in myself purely so that TC can find something more modern to satisfy the cravings of the Impossible Murder Phanatic (or ‘Imp’, as those people have definitely been calling themselves for years now).

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#437: Murder on Safari (1938) by Elspeth Huxley

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Lightning could strike twice, right?  I went into Max Murray’s The Voice of the Corpse (1948) last week knowing nothing about it and that turned out rather well, and no less authorities than Xavier Lechard and Nick Fuller had enthused about this in recent weeks.  Plus, in the comments on that above post, TomCat — who knows my standards pretty well, I feel — called Murder on Safari (1938) “a wonderfully written detective story with a splendid backdrop, [that] plays scrupulously fair with the reader”.  So, despite (deliberately) knowing nothing about this one either, this wasn’t a risk at all.  Kick back, and let the good times roll.

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#436: “I am in my own way an emissary of justice” – A Long Goodbye to Aunt Jane in Nemesis (1971) by Agatha Christie


After 41 years, 12 novels, and 20 short stories, Nemesis (1971) represents the end of the road for Agatha Christie and her spinster detective Miss Jane Marple.  Marple herself would survive her creator in the posthumously-published Sleeping Murder (1976), but since that was written decades prior — and the collection Miss Marple’s Final Cases (1979) consists of uncollected stories from much earlier in Christie’s career — this the final time they would have together.

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#435: The Voice of the Corpse (1948) by Max Murray

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When unpopular spinster Angela Pewsey is killed by a blow to the head — “the first time in many years that someone had done something in her vicinity about which she was not thoroughly informed” — following a spate of poison pen letters, it is met with quite spectacular disinterest by the other denizens of the small village of Inching Round.  And, indeed, the attitude which solicitor Firth Prentice must confront when brought down from London to investigate (quite against his will) by the comely Celia Sim is that, frankly, most people would rather shake the murderer’s hand than see anyone hang for such a public-spirited act.

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#434: Locked Room International is 30 – My Favourite 15 Books

LRI Thirty

Some months ago, in our podcast The Men Who Explain Miracles, first myself and then Dan chose our fifteen favourite locked room novels of all time.  In celebration of Locked Room International recently putting out their thirtieth fiction title, I have done essentially the same again, this time choosing solely from their catalogue: effectively, my personal picks for the ‘top half’ of their output to date.

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#433: No Killer Has Wings: The Casebook of Dr. Joel Hoffman [ss] (1959-63) by Arthur Porges

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Arthur Porges is an author who seems to’ve faded somewhat from memory despite (or maybe ‘on account of’) writing in a spread of genres.  To myself, he’s of most interest as the creator of fiendishly ingenious impossible crime stories, and it was with much delight that I learned of Richard Simms’ on-going project to get all Porges’ short fiction reprinted…and with much impatience that I awaited the Joel Hoffman stories, having first encountered Porges through ‘No Killer Has Wings’ in a Mike Ashley-edited collection…and with much consternation that I admit it’s taken me far too long to get round to this collection since its publication in 2017.

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