#740: The Darker the Night (1949) by Herbert Brean

Darker the Night

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Man, there is a lot to unpack here. Firstly my love of Herbert Brean — an author brought to my attention by TomCat, and about whose books Ben at The Green Capsule and I frequently try to outdo each other in our enthusiasm. Secondly the need for a mystery to sell you on its central premise — here, hypnotism, about which a neat little treatise halfway through. And thirdly the purpose of a mystery novel — does a compelling plot obviate the need for a good mystery, and does a disappointing mystery necessarily detract from a great plot? All this and more we shall confront today with Brean’s second novel The Darker the Night (1949).

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#737: Murder in the Maze (1927) by J.J. Connington

Murder in the Maze

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If ever a classic-era mystery delivered promise after promise in the opening chapter it was Murder in the Maze (1927), the third criminous novel by Alfred Walter Stewart under his J.J. Connington nom de plume. You get near-identical twins, one of who is the lynchpin barrister in an on-going high-profile trial, their wastrel and haphazard younger brother, their mentally-inflicted nephew, their plans to each sit in a different part of their country house’s hedge maze for some peace and quiet, a bunch of house-guests coming and going to odd places, and a suspicious valet. If all this didn’t presage a murder, you’d want your money back.

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#735: Reprint of the Year – The Red Locked Room [ss] (2020) by Tetsuya Ayukawa [ed. Taku Ashibe & Ho-Ling Wong; trans. Ho-Ling Wong 2020]

So, the obvious question in light of this entry into the Reprint of the Year Awards 2020 as organised by Kate at CrossExaminingCrime is: can these stories originally published between 1954 and 1961 be considered a reprint if they’ve never been published in English before? To which I ask: if they couldn’t, would they be in the running for the Reprint of the Year Awards?

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#734: The Wailing Rock Murders (1932) by Clifford Orr

Dartmouth Wailing Rock Murders

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Let the record state that The Wailing Rock Murders (1932) is the seventh title I’ve read from the Roland Lacourbe-curated Locked Room Library list to not actually contain an impossible crime. Others of this distinction have run the gamut from wonderful to utterly forgettable, so an absence of impossibility is not to be held against it, and Clifford Orr’s second and final novel undeniably contains plenty of locked rooms…but they’re the ‘locked from the outside’ variety, whose very nature should not be confused with the sort of thing we (are meant to) mean when throwing a term like ‘locked room mystery’ about.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 14: The Island of Coffins (2021) by John Dickson Carr + The 9.50 Up Express (2021) by Freeman Wills Crofts [w’ Tony Medawar]

We’re all prone to speculate at times about how wonderful it would be to discover a previously-unpublished work by a beloved Golden Age author, and for today’s podcast episode Tony Medawar rejoins me to tempt you with two forthcoming collections of hard-to-find material from two of the genre’s titans — John Dickson Carr and Freeman Wills Crofts.

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