Perhaps April Fool’s Day isn’t the best scheduling of this post, but the recent experience of dragging my way through Helen Vardon’s Confession (1922) by R. Austin Freeman got me thinking about the literary detectives I’d follow to hell and back, and I figured that it might be worth expanding upon.Continue reading
#1009: The Right Murder (1941) by Craig Rice
“Now you take this guy who was killed New Year’s Eve. If he was gonna be killed, why couldn’t he have had his passport on him, or a driver’s license, or even a calling card? No. Not a damn thing. So I have to go to all the trouble of finding out who he was. When I do find out, then what? More trouble.” Homicide Captain Daniel von Flanagan has a point, as there’s also the matter of the dead man staggering into a bar where lawyer John J. Malone was drowning his sorrows and croaking out “Malone!” before expiring on the floor, added to Malone’s insistence that he’d never seen the man before. And what of the key numbered 114 the man slipped to Malone…a key that was apparently stolen from the lawyer only moments later?
#954: The Wrong Murder (1940) by Craig Rice
At the bunfight following his marriage to Helene Brand, theatrical agent Jake Justus, reflecting that “he had had more than his fair share of homicides”, is unprepared for Mona McClane boasting that she will kill someone “in broad daylight on the public streets, with…plenty of witnesses”. Surely she can’t be serious? And so a bet is struck — powered, no doubt, by the veneer of alcohol that drives so much of Craig Rice’s wild plotting — that, if Mona commits the murder, Jake will prove her guilty of it. And then a man is shot dead on the busiest corner in Chicago during the Christmas rush, with Mona McClane spotted in the vicinity just moments before.
#879: The Corpse Steps Out (1940) by Craig Rice
One of the joys of this blog is sharing the excitement of discovery with people who understand. I like to think that I would have come to the work of Freeman Wills Crofts, R. Austin Freeman, Cornell Woolrich and others in due course, but having my exposure to and growing excitement for their fictional endeavours charted here among fellow fans makes it feel even more special. Add to that list Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig, whose work as Craig Rice I’m now three novels deep into and who is someone can confidently say I’m going to love even more in the years ahead. I mean that in all earnestness: Craig Rice and I are going to be friends for a long time.
#846: Eight Faces at Three (1939) by Craig Rice
At the risk of upsetting the accepted order of things, I have a serious question: in placing Queens of Crime alongside Agatha Christie, why is the scope always so narrow? The Sayers-Marsh-Allingham-Tey debate rages ever onward, but, after reading just two of her novels, I’m going to throw a hat labelled ‘Craig Rice’ into the ring and stand back to see what happens. Her debut Eight Faces at Three (1939) ain’t perfect, and the review will explain in more detail, but to summarise: buy this now, because we need to convince the American Mystery Classics that a full reprint of Craig Rice is something they should commit to. You can thank me later.
#593: Home Sweet Homicide (1944) by Craig Rice
As a rule, I start getting a bit nervous if it takes me more than three days to finish a book. I read Home Sweet Homicide (1944), the first of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig’s novels I’ve ever attempted, over one week and one day and, quite honestly, would have happily kept reading it for another month or two. I’ve never gotten a sense of her as an author from her short stories — largely, I’d imagine, because of the need to cram in character and plot in less space — and, if I’m honest, didn’t relish the screwball antics her reputation seemed to promise. Well, no fear. This isn’t screwball, it’s not especially tightly plotted, and it’s possibly the best book I’ve read in a long ol’ time.
#546: The 10 Types of Impossible Crime – Categories and Titles from Our Talk at Bodies from the Library 2019