#862: “All roads lead to death. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.” – The 5 False Suicides (2021) by James Scott Byrnside

I haven’t pursued any Adventures in Self-Publishing, in which I read and review self-published works featuring impossible crimes, since October 2020. Well, the good news is that James Scott Byrnside, star pupil of the AiSP Academy, released his fourth book in December 2021, and so now we can saddle up the horse again and get adventurin’.

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#861: The Man Who Died Twice (2021) by Richard Osman

Man Who Died Twice

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Anyone who didn’t buy Richard Osman’s second novel The Man Who Died Twice (2021) when it came out last year probably got it for Christmas, and you’ve doubtless read it by now. I actually read it just before Christmas, but it’s taken me a long time to order my thoughts regarding this second visit to the septuagenarian denizens of Cooper’s Chase retirement village. On one hand, I can see how millions of people around the world will be completely charmed by Osman’s whimsy; on the other, the plot here only really occupies the last 70 pages, with the rest of the book filled out by padding of the most egregious hue and stripe.

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#855: The Wintringham Mystery, a.k.a. Cicely Disappears (1927) by Anthony Berkeley [a.p.a. by A. Monmouth Platts]

Wintringham Mystery

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Even though — or perhaps, because — I’m a fan of Anthony Berkeley Cox’s work, I approach him with some trepidation. At his best you get the innovative brilliance of The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929), while among his failures is the repetitious turgidity of The Second Shot (1930) or Not to be Taken (1938).  Thankfully, The Wintringham Mystery (1927), originally serialised in the Daily Mirror in 1926 before being reworked as a novel, falls squarely in the former camp: a witty, playful, brisk Country House puzzler bafflingly out of print for nearly a century that’s so good it would justify a full reprint of the man’s work on its own.

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#831: “As you know, an unusual crime has a deep interest for me…” – Bodies from the Library 4 [ss] (2021) ed. Tony Medawar

I can’t believe that there is a GAD enthusiast who doesn’t look forward to the annual Bodies from the Library collections so expertly curated by Tony Medawar. In bringing to public awareness some of the forgotten, neglected, or simply unknown stories that the great and the good of the form produced, these collections have become a source of great excitement, and a must-read for even the most ardent student of the Golden Age.

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#830: So Pretty a Problem (1950) by Francis Duncan

So Pretty a Problem

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“Please.  Come quickly.  Please.  I’ve killed my husband.” — these words awaken the holidaying Mordecai Tremaine as he dozes on the beach below the clifftop holiday home of Helen Carthallow and her artist husband Adrian.  More worryingly, the words are spoken by Helen herself and, accompanying her over the footbridge that is the house’s only connection to the mainland, Tremaine finds Adrian shot in the head and Helen insisting it’s all the result of a bit of playfulness gone very, very wrong. All this happening in the opening chapter of So Pretty a Problem (1950) by Francis Duncan seemed to bode well for an incident-packed puzzle plot…and then, well.

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