Thanks to the recent reprints by Ramble House, a few years ago I discovered the Chief Inspector Edward Beale books written by Ernest Thornett under the nom de plume Rupert Penny. Puzzle-dense and complex beyond belief, they were a joy to my pattern-obsessed brain and, having now read all eight of them, my mind immediately moves to the concept of placing them in a hierarchy.
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.
I have previously ranked the first ten Gideon Fell novels by John Dickson Carr, and having now read And So to Murder (1940) — the tenth of his novels to feature Sir Henry ‘H.M.’ Merrivale, written under the pseudonym Carter Dickson — it seems only sensible to do the same for this deca…tet.
I’ll he honest, I’m not really sure what this post is about. See, I’ve been mulling the appeal of the impossible crime novel for, well, years now, and having previously looked at what makes something an impossible crime the thing I’ve been mulling lately why the concept of an impossible crime is so appealing. This, then, is the end result of those lucubrations, unfocused as they are despite being pinned on a very small area of interest.
You’ll of course be aware that the birth stone for July is the ruby which — apologies for going over something we all know — signifies contentment. And so for Tuesdays in July I shall be putting forth a series of lists that, as a GAD fan, would go some way to enhancing my own content with the world.
Of late, I have found myself surrounded by invisible men. Entirely fictional, of course, but there have been a lot of them: shooting someone in an empty room in You’ll Die Laughing (1945) by Bruce Elliott, disappearing into darkness in I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe, vanishing from rooms and beaches in Thursday’s forthcoming Wilders Walk Away (1948) by Herbert Brean, performing miracle appearances and disappearances as I reread Rim of the Pit (1944) by Hake Talbot…everywhere I look, people are vanishing.
A variety of events in my actual, I’m-a-real-person life — the culmination of which was a discussion about the perceived inferiority of genre fiction because of its hidebound nature — has got me reflecting on the deployment of rules, conventions, tropes, expectations, and other norms in detective fiction, and I thought I’d share it here in case anyone was interested (I mean, that’s all I’ve done so far with this blog, and it seems to be going well…).