I started 2019 on The Invisible Event by sharing the wonderful news that Goodnight Irene (2018) by James Scott Byrnside was a modern impossible crime novel we had legitimate reason to get excited about. And, excitingly, the end of that book promised a follow-up — titled Nemesis at the time — in 2019. And, one title-change later, no doubt on account of some has-been getting there first, here we are.
TomCat has been urging me to read this fourth novel from Dorothy Blair and Evelyn Page’s ‘Roger Scarlett’ nom de plume for a while now, not least on account of our shared enthusiasm for impossible crimes. But I’m a stickler for my Ways and so have worked my way to it chronologically, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the first three novels improve in style, scope, scheme, and substance from book to book. Here again, then, is another murder amidst a tightly-packed coterie of suspects in one of Boston’s mansions, with again enough cross-purposes, desires, and hidden intentions to make any one of them a killer…so whodunnit?
Since four Tuesdays in the month only allow me four books as part of this Going Home series, today we finish the current run. But I’ve enjoyed rereading these books and will doubtless return to this concept at some future point.
Dorothy Leigh Sayers is undoubtedly one of the most influential and enduring writers to emerge from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction — as a founding member of the Detection Club and the creator of one of last century’s best known amateur sleuths she was in at the blood of the formulation of GAD and has remained hugely popular ever since.
I don’t think anyone would doubt that I’m out of my stated era of the Golden Age reviewing a book from 1961, and there isn’t even an impossibility in this one to justify it on those grounds. But Patricia Moyes’ debut Dead Men Don’t Ski (1959) was clothed in the fashions of GAD, and the series bears further investigation for that alone. This second novel is afflicted a little by the narrative periphrasis that betokens later-era crime writing — chapter one should be called ‘Here’s the Cast’ and chapter two ‘Sure, I Understand Sailing, But I Don’t Know How to Communicate It (Glossary of Terms)’ — but, once past that, things improve significantly.