#520: Seeing is Believing, a.k.a. Cross of Murder (1941) by Carter Dickson

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Socialising is difficult, isn’t it? One minute you’re making polite dinner party conversation about jobs with someone you’ve only just met, the next a hypnotist performs a few mesmeric passes and goads a wife into stabbing her husband with a knife everyone knows is fake but which — awks — actually turns out to be real and, oh my god, she’s killed him.  We’ve all been there, and we all know how tricky it can be to factor this sort of thing into one’s TripAdvisor rating.  An unexpected, impossible murder can dampen the mood somewhat — especially when so many people seem to be operating at cross-purposes — but remember you did say the canapés were lovely…

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#517: Murder in the Family, a.k.a. The Murder in Gay Ladies (1936) by James Ronald

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I’m nowhere near Puzzle Doctor/Brian Flynn levels of adoration yet, but there’s a good chance James Ronald could turn out to be one of my very favourite unheralded authors.  Sure, he wrote in quite a range of genres — from ‘a family’s struggles in an unfamiliar environment’ to incident-packed impossible crime novels and, presumably, just about anything in between — and the frank unavailability of so many of his books is going to make tracking him down long and, given the spread of genres, at times possibly unrewarding work, but when he’s good, boy is he good.  As in the case of the Osborne Family Murder — with ‘family’ being very much the key word here.

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#515: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #10: Angel Killer (2014) by Andrew Mayne

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The appeal of detective fiction and impossible crime novels for me is their potential for elegance, for taking something that seems utterly baffling and rendering it clear through intelligent deployment of a few key ideas.  This achieved peak density during the Golden Age, which is why that era earned that sobriquet, and it feels like it’s been downhill ever since.

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#514: About the Murder of a Startled Lady (1935) by Anthony Abbot

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This is another title brought to my attention via the Roland Lacourbe-curated list of one hundred (well, 114) notable impossible crime novels.  If I’m honest, I still don’t know what to make of that list — containing as it does some wonderful books that aren’t impossible crimes, some poor books that aren’t impossible crimes, and some thoroughly glorious impossible crimes that would otherwise have passed me by.  This one is…fine.  While the impossibility isn’t up to much, there’s enough interest in the approach taken to commend it if you can find a copy.  Would I put it among the hundred best, however?  Er, no…

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