#900: The Twyford Code (2022) by Janice Hallett

Twyford Code

star filledstar filledstar filledstarsstars
Depending on who you ask, the wartime children’s books of Edith Twyford are either “an unchallenging read on every level [with n]o subtext [and n]o depth” or they’re “nasty, sadistic, moral little tales full of pompous superiority at best and blatant racism at worst.” Her series based around The Super Six in which “[t]hree girls and three boys…solve mysteries that have been puzzling the local community” has been gradually updated with each successive generation and translation, so that their outdated attitudes can be put aside once and for all. But might something else have been lost along the way? Something people would kill for?

Continue reading

#865: There Is Nothing Either Good or Bad, But Thinking Makes It So – Examining the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones List

If you’ve met me, firstly I apologise, and secondly it’ll come as no surprise that I have a tendency to ruminate on that which many others pass over without so much as a backward glance. Previously this resulted in me writing something in the region of 25,000 words on the Knox Decalogue, and today I’m going to turn my eye upon the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list. Prepare thyself…

Continue reading

#821: The Appeal (2021) by Janice Hallett

appeal

star filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
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.

Continue reading

#400: The Rynox Mystery (1930) by Philip MacDonald

Rynox Mysterystar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstar filled
Well, who’d’ve thought it, eh?  Philip MacDonald first featured in my reading life in 1-star ignominy, and here he is not just beating all-comers to feature my 400th blog post, but doing so with a book that I — against my better judgement, nature, and previous standards — unabashedly loved with every fibre of my being.  Quite the turnaround, and part of why I persevere with intially-disappointing authors.  Just to clear something up from the off: no, I would not classify this as an impossible crime, despite its inclusion on the Ronald Lacourbe list being what brought it to my attention in the first place, but that’s hardly the first time this has happened….

Continue reading

#321: The Maze, a.k.a. Persons Unknown (1932) by Philip MacDonald

The Maze Much like in one of those hilarious romantic comedies from the early 2000s starring Ben Stiller or Jennifer Lopez, Philip MacDonald and I got off to a rocky start that seemed to be improving, on the way to falling lovingly into each other’s arms by the end credits.  It began badly with X v. Rex (1933), showed signs of improvement with Murder Gone Mad (1931), and so by now we’re at the montage stage — I’m the aggressive go-getter, he won’t compromise where his family’s concerned…how can two such different souls ever hope to find common ground?  Can’t I see that his brand of innovation is made for me?  Won’t he just do the decent thing and write a novel of detection with actual clues?  Hairy Aaron, we’re so stubborn…

Continue reading