#758: Don’t Go Out After Dark (1950) by Norman Berrow

Don't Go Out After Dark

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I posited before that Norman Berrow’s career was neatly bisected by the Second World War — those novels he wrote before it being light, sometimes a little tedious, and generally easily dismissed, and those coming after possessed of better plotting, better characterisation, better everything.  Then I encountered two post-war Berrow books in a row — Words Have Wings (1946) and The Singing Room (1948), both featuring the characters Michael and Fleur Revel — which left me disinterested and to date remain unfinished.  Does Don’t Go Out After Dark (1950), the last of the usually excellent Lancelot Carolus Smith novels I have to read, correct this?  Thankfully, yes.

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#757: Little Fictions – The Nine Mile Walk and Other Stories [ss] (1968) by Harry Kemelman

A little while back, I decided that short story collections don’t really merit an overall star rating since the stories should be considered individually. Thus, I stopped reviewing them on Thursdays and moved them to weekends. The upshot of this is that I now have a lot of unreviewed short story collections, so I’m going to pick out four single-author bundles to look at on Tuesdays in February. And first up is this collection recommended to me by Christian of Mysteries, Short and Sweet.

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#755: Mystery on Southampton Water, a.k.a. Crime on the Solent (1934) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Mystery on Southampton Water

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For evidence of the restless enthusiasm Freeman Wills Crofts brought to the writing of detective fiction, look no further than the two books he published in 1934. The first — The 12.30 from Croydon, a.k.a. Wilful and Premeditated — was his first inverted mystery, a fairly standard affair in which we are wise to the killer’s reasons, actions, and thoughts from the beginning and which Inspector Joseph French then unpicks quickly in the closing chapters. No doubt Crofts was interested in this new form, but simply repeating a formula which, if we’re honest, gets a little bit long-winded in the closing stages did not appeal. And so changes were wrought for a second stab.

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#752: Fear Stalks the Village (1932) by Ethel Lina White

Fear Stalks the Village

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The subgenres by which we carve up any broad classification of fiction admit a degree of specialisation but raise problems in terms of enjoyment. For instance, Fear Stalks the Village (1932) as a Village Mystery must supply satisfaction on two fronts: it must have both a great village and a great mystery — and, while it has the former in spades, it lacks sorely to my tastes on the latter half of that expectation. And while The Voice of the Corpse (1948) by Max Murray shows that such a mixture can fall favourably upon my experience, White’s tale of poison pen letters seems to love its village a little too much to allow the mystery to ever really gain traction.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 17: The Hardboiled Golden Age on Page and Screen [w’ Sergio @ Tipping My Fedora]

After watching detective fiction play out in the drawing rooms of ivory towers for too long, I’m heading into the mean streets to get some grease under my nails, a shiv waved in my face, and probably a cosh to the back of my head. Thankfully, Sergio, who oversaw a great deal of this stuff in books and on film at Tipping My Fedora has consented to accompany me and keep me as safe as he can.

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#749: The Red Right Hand (1945) by Joel Townsley Rogers

Red Right Hand

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I first read The Red Right Hand (1945) by Joel Townsley Rogers about a decade ago — maybe more, maybe less, it’s fitting given the nature of the narrative herein that I’m a little hazy on the precise details. I’m unsure how it came to my attention, but I do know that I had expected a traditional suspects-murder-investigation-solution structure and that, when the book absolutely did not deliver this, it proved to be a frustrating read. This reissue by the American Mystery Classics range, then, was to be celebrated for a chance to re-evaluate the novel — my previous copy having gone who knows where — knowing what I was getting. And, well, it is still a frustrating read.

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