#850: Penelope’s Web (2001) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2021]

Penelope's Web

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In my recent conversation with Nick about Jonathan Creek, I reflected on how a chance encounter with that television programme ended up having a profound effect upon my interests. No less profound an effect was brought about by my purchasing of John Pugmire’s translation of The Fourth Door (1987, tr. 1999) by Paul Halter back in 2013. The annual Halter translations Pugmire publishes through Locked Room International are a highlight of my year, having provided a window on the French mystery in the Golden Age and beyond (thanks almost entirely to Pugmire’s translations of many other classics), and being a riotously fun time along the way.

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#847: “Vital and immediate. Vital and immediate.” – ‘Secret Radio’ [rp] (1944) by John Dickson Carr

If you were fortunate enough to get one of the 150 hardcover editions of The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from the Casebook of Cabin B-13 (2020) by John Dickson Carr — and I was — you also got an additional pamphlet containing the play ‘Secret Radio’ (1944). And so, having completed my reviews of the collection proper, I turn my attention to this delightful appendix.

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#846: Eight Faces at Three (1939) by Craig Rice

Eight Faces at Three

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At the risk of upsetting the accepted order of things, I have a serious question: in placing Queens of Crime alongside Agatha Christie, why is the scope always so narrow?  The Sayers-Marsh-Allingham-Tey debate rages ever onward, but, after reading just two of her novels, I’m going to throw a hat labelled ‘Craig Rice’ into the ring and stand back to see what happens. Her debut Eight Faces at Three (1939) ain’t perfect, and the review will explain in more detail, but to summarise: buy this now, because we need to convince the American Mystery Classics that a full reprint of Craig Rice is something they should commit to. You can thank me later.

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#842: Red Harvest (1929) by Dashiell Hammett

Red Harvest

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In the early days of this blog, to indicate my tastes, I brazenly avowed that certain authors were unlikely ever to be reviewed here; bang in the middle of that list, fresh from disappointments with his short fiction, was Dashiell Hammett.  Even in the throes of castigation, however, I acknowledged the “dense and amazing” plotting of his debut novel Red Harvest (1929), which had a startling effect on this young man when finding my feet in the genre in the early 2000s.  And then Nick Fuller’s recent review of that book — linked below — did to its reputation what the Continental Op does to Personville herein, and my interest in revisiting it was well and truly piqued.

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#839: The Death of a Millionaire (1925) by G.D.H. and Margaret Cole

Death of a Millionaire

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Here’s an oddity to begin with: the cover of my Penguin edition of The Death of a Millionaire (1925) by G.D.H. and Margaret Cole — a scan of the actual copy I read shown left — omits the opening article, but the title pages and all the internal pages include it. This may be deliberate, since it’s about the only mystery connected with this title that will confound any readers, the central scheme being frankly transparent to the modern eye — even if it may have caused sensation in 1925. However, the book as a whole is so very enjoyable, occasional facetiousness aside, that I can’t really hold this against it.

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