#764: The Six Queer Things (1937) by Christopher St. John Sprigg

Six Queer Things

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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.

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#695: The Perfect Alibi (1934) by Christopher St. John Sprigg

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The discovery of a bullet in a body in a fire in “one of the most peaceful and law-abiding parts of Thameshire” ushers in a game of Murder or Suicide? that will be familiar to the seasoned GAD reader.  And since the Chief Constable would “rather have a few murders than [Scotland Yard] nosing round in his area” it falls to his nephew, constable Laurence Sadler, and Sadler’s superior Inspector Trenton to get to the bottom of Antony Mullins’ death.  But even Sadler and Trenton, as the local men, are unprepared for the characters who seek to inveigle their way into proceedings, and the complexity that will unfold as a result.

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#237: Death of an Airman (1934) by Christopher St. John Sprigg

Death of an AirmanAn experienced pilot crashes his plane and dies, and at the inquest the jury returns a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’.  They’re correct, and there’s nothing else to investigate.  Nah, I’m kidding, of course — we’re deep in the Golden Age here, so it has to be more complicated than that, and before you know it there are amateur sleuths, mistaken identities, re-examination of bodies, codes, intrigue, and the threat of more murder zipping around like so many flies at a picnic.  As an exemplar of what the Golden Age did so well,  Death of an Airman joins Death of Anton as a virtual textbook for the beginner, and as such marks another superb entry in the British Library Crime Classics series.

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