#544: Murder by Matchlight (1945) by E.C.R. Lorac

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Back when E.C.R. Lorac was a semi-forgotten also-ran, I snapped up this Dover Press reissue before I figured the book would vanish into oblivion, hoping I’d smartly acquired an obscure gem.  Skip forward a mere couple of years and the British Library Crime Classics series continues its exemplary work in reviving a wide range of authors and texts, and Murder by Matchlight (1945) has been dragged from its dusty and semi-overlooked corner into the full glare of publicity.  Goddamn it, there goes half my retirement plan; oh, well, fingers crossed that the bottom doesn’t fall out of the fidget spinner market any time soon…

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#457: Black Beadle (1939) by E.C.R. Lorac

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It comes to us all in the end: the moment that a prolific, tantalisingly-just-about-available author we’ve been low-key enjoying without ever really loving suddenly turns in an utter duffer of a book.  It happened with the last Lorac I read — Slippery Staircase (1938) — and while Black Beadle (1939) doesn’t quite plow the same ignominious farrow, it’s not exactly leaps and bounds better.  And yet Edith Rivett’s take on the standard GAD milieu is so atypical that while she’ll miss the mark on a few occasions, I don’t believe she’ll have written anything without any merit whatsoever.  This is still a substandard effort, but with enough wrinkles to warrant attention.

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#426: Slippery Staircase (1938) by E.C.R. Lorac

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I have thus far seen E.C.R. Lorac’s Chief Inspector Macdonald investigate a handful of rather unusual crimes — a man dropping dead in his garden, a body appearing in a car during a London Particular, and maybe a murder following a “How would you commit a murder?” game — but this is by far the most unusual: an old lady falling down the communal stairwell outside her top floor flat.  Footprint evidence shows no-one could have been near her at the time and, but for the equally unsuspicious death of her sister in virtually the exact same manner a few months previously, there is no reason to suspect foul play.

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#379: Bats in the Belfry (1937) by E.C.R. Lorac

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If you seek evidence of my tendency to over-commit where GAD is concerned, look no further than my reading and reviewing two E.C.R. Lorac titles and then buying a further, ahem, six before actually getting round to reading any more.  For all her perceived failings — not as rigorous as Christie, not as refined as Sayers, not as dull as Marsh — I’ve found my first few books by Edith Caroline Rivett to distinguish themselves in her approaching fairly standard setups with an air of trying to do something a little uncommon.  We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are putting a different tread on the tyres.

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#355: Change a Letter, Alter the Plot

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If you’ve been paying attention, especially to my comments left both here and elsewhere, you’ll be aware that my typing is rather famously variable.  90% of the time I’m good, but that other 10% — man, some errors there are.  Writing something recently, I made reference to the novel Five Little Pugs by Agatha Christie and then — catching myself in time to correct it — I had a thought…

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