Five short mysteries from the pen of Robert Arthur in the year before he launched The Three Investigators on the world? What’s not to love? And this first story even comes with a supplementary mystery all of its own.
As we approach the (current?) end of Rob Innes’ Blake Harte series of impossible crime stories, I have to confess that one of its major successes has been getting me, a man who will take a finely-crafted plot over minutely-observed character, engaged in the lives of his core cast.
Typical, eh? You wait years for a blog to talk about magic, and then suddenly three posts come along at once: the most recent In GAD We Trust episode with John Norris, and two self-published impossible crime stories — one this week, and one next. Sure, that’s stretching the definition of “at once” to an Orwellian degree, but that’s how I apparently roll.
My previous encounter with A.G. Barnett’s self-published impossible crime fiction was An Invitation to Murder (2019), which saw an interesting-if-cozy impossible battering in a locked room lose points for drawing attention to the one detail it then failed to explain. But, everyone gets two books, and so we’re back, this time with a different series and a stabbing in a locked and watched room.
There’s a quote attributed to Michaelangelo essentially stating that a statue already exists inside a block of stone and it’s merely the sculptor’s job to chip away the stone that isn’t part of the resulting artwork. This came to mind a lot whilst reading The Thirteenth Apostle (2020) by Jamie Probin, because if you remove the excess of nervous repetition and tedious tone setting there’s probably a great book in here somewhere.
I was recently moved to suggest that The Secret of Hangman’s Inn (1956), the sixth title in the Ken Holt series by husband-and-wife team Bruce Campbell, was the point at which that series found its feet and jumped to life. Today I’m going to promulgate that The Mystery of the Hidden House (1948), the sixth title in the Five Find-Outers series by one-woman publishing sensation Enid Blyton, is the point where this series finds its feet and jumps to life. Coincidence? Yes, undoubtedly.