#821: The Appeal (2021) by Janice Hallett

appeal

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Do not adjust your sets, The Appeal (2021) by Janice Hallett is a modern crime novel that does not contain an apparent impossibility…and yet here I am reading and reviewing it.  I was struck by the idea behind this: essentially an update of The Documents in the Case (1930) by Dorothy L. Sayers and Robert Eustace, The Maze, a.k.a. Persons Unknown (1932) by Philip MacDonald, and the Dennis Wheatley “murder dossier” books that began with Murder Off Miami (1936), in which the story of a murder is told through emails, text messages, interview transcripts, and more. And as updates go, this is a very good one indeed — very cleverly written, very easy to read.

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#819: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #17: The Knight’s Tale (2021) by M.J. Trow

The last time I checked out a modern impossible crime novel on the increasingly-tenuous pretence that this is being done exclusively for the beneft of TomCat, I took a swing at something that turned out to (maybe?) contain no impossibility at all. Thankfully that won’t happen again. Right?

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#728: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #15: The Devil and the Dark Water (2020) by Stuart Turton

While I don’t quite share the optimism of my fellow impossible crime aficionado TomCat that a second Golden Age of detective fiction is on the horizon, there can be no denying that some great neo-orthodox detective novels have been written in recent years by the likes of James Scott Byrnside, Anthony Horowitz, and (with a heavy emphasis on the neo) Stuart Turton.

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#712: The Thursday Murder Club (2020) by Richard Osman

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I really should not have enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club (2020) as much as I did. I’m an avowed devotee of the rigour of Freeman Wills Crofts and I have a nerdy podcast where we get far too serious about the minutiae of classic era detective fiction, for pity’s sake — a lightly comedic crime novel in which a group of septuagenarians inveigle their way into a murder investigation while worrying about the quality of supermarket own-brand biscuits should not raise from me even a curious eyebrow. And yet, honestly, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve been this charmed in years, and I haven’t laughed so much and so helplessly since reading Catch-22 (1961) when I was about 17.

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#627: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #14: The Darker Arts (2019) by Oscar de Muriel

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A certain amount of debate continues to rage — “rage” might be too strong a word — over whether the impossible alibi qualifies as a true impossible crime.  I suggest that, should it eventually be inducted into future Locked Room Murders supplements, we do so on a ‘one out, one in’ policy and retire the “death by unknown means” to make space.

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#597: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #13: Impolitic Corpses (2019) by Paul Johnston

Impolitic Corpses

Cast triskaidekaphobia aside!  Sure, these modern impossible crime novels haven’t always shown the subgenre at its best, but Paul Johnston was one of the many contemporary crime fiction authors I read back in the early 2000s, and a chance to reconnect with him and the series that made his name can only be a good thing…right?

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#576: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #12: Endgame (2019) by Daniel Cole

Endgame

I started, but did not finish, Daniel Cole’s debut novel Ragdoll (2017), which seemed to me a gruesome hook followed by a lot of meandering prose.  Endgame (2019), his third novel, promised me a dead body in a locked room and so, since I’m reluctant to write off anyone after just one book, here we are.

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#549: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #11: Now You See Me (2019) by Chris McGeorge

Now You See Me

The English language is a funny thing.  Take for instance Chris McGeorge’s debut novel Guess Who (2018) which, revolving as it did around a group of people solving a mystery while locked in a room, was marketed as a ‘locked room mystery’ when that is a phrase which has already had another meaning for well over a century.

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