The mystery for younger readers I reviewed last week was big on world and short on plot; this week, we redress that balance.Continue reading
A quick recap for the unfamiliar: every three months, Moira, Brad, and I read an Agatha Christie book, discuss it in full spoiler-rich detail, and post a recording of that discussion here. I tell you in advance which book it is going to be, and you are invited to read along at home and then listen in to agree or disagree with our feelings.Continue reading
God, I needed this. Not that my reading has been hard work of late — I’m keeping within fairly safe ground, the last year having taking its toll on my…everything — but this is the first book I’ve read in a while that has been so damn fun. Remember fun? We used to have it all the time. For 90% of The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (1940) I was swept up in the sheer joy of the ornate, ridiculous planning that goes into a puzzle mystery, in wave after wave of wildly unpredictable developments, and in the excitement of celebrating the voracious fandom the mystery genre excites. For the other 10%…well, we shall get to that in due course.
It has long been a belief of mine that science fiction invented the interlinked trilogy — rarely seen better on the page than in Isaac Asimov’s first Foundation troika (1951-53) and on the screen in Episodes IV-VI (1977-83) of the Star Wars movie universe.Continue reading
On the back of the Reprint of the Year Award run by Kate at CrossExaminingCrime, I thought it might be interesting to see what those of us who submit titles for that undertaking would choose to bring back from the exile of being OOP.Continue reading
When recently retired Chief Constable Sir Clinton Driffield heads to the village of Raynham Parva to spend some time with his widowed sister and her two children, he is met by surprises on all sides. On the drive down he encounters what appears to be the shattering of an Eternal Triangle, then he discovers that his beloved niece Elsie has embarked on a nostrum of a mariage to Vincente Francia, an Argentinian gentleman no-one had ever heard of before. Driffield barely has time to tut disapprovingly before one member of that Triangle turns up dead in suspicious circumstances and, despite his questionable official status, he is called in to consult.
Don’t be put off by the publication date — we’re deep in the Golden Age here, with the twelve stories in this collection originally published in 1934 and 1935. And, oh my, what a collection it is.Continue reading
First TomCat, then John, and then last week Tom Mead mentioned the impossible crime credentials of the writing collective that publishes under he name ‘Michael Slade’, and then the rooster crowed and I realised I’d denied this three times and so should probably do something about it. Thus, today we dive into the world of Special X.Continue reading
I’m aware that The Six Queer Things (1937) was the seventh and final novel to be published by Christopher St. John Sprigg following his death in the Spanish Civil War, but — having read two of his previous books — its contents belie its status as his final work, marking it out more as an apprentice effort from an earlier stage in his career. Both Death of an Airman (1934) and The Perfect Alibi (1934) sit more comfortably in the Golden Age milieu, where Queer Things is replete with details and developments that would have thrilled the late Victorians but impressed a crowd drunk on Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, and Ellery Queen to a decidedly less marked degree.
A surgeon, a policeman, a psychiatrist, a mathematician, and a pathologist walk into a club — the foundation not of some esoteric wit but instead the Dilettante’s Club, a dinner-and-discussion group who meet fortnightly for their own entertainment. And when Professor Marcus Stubbs joins their number, those discussions take a frequent turn into the realm of the impossible crime.Continue reading