#356: Minor Felonies – Young Robin Brand, Detective (1947) by Freeman Wills Crofts

The thirty-first novel Freeman Wills Crofts published in his career was this novel for younger readers.  Let that sink in a moment.  Captain Dryasdust encroaching on Enid Blyton’s territory seems about as likely as Blyton herself trying her hand at Raymond Chandler’s metaphor-laden hard-edged novels of moral decay…the difference being that Crofts actually tried it.

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#355: Change a Letter, Alter the Plot


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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#335: Stand Not Upon the Order of Your Going – Do You Get the Most Out of an Author by Reading Them Chronologically?


In light of my recent favourable experience with Ellery Queen’s The Chinese Orange Mystery (1934), my thoughts turn to the benefits and pitfalls of reading GAD authors’ novels in chronological order.  The old joke is that they had to write them in that order, but is there any real benefit or detriment in reading them so arrayed?

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#330: Highs & Lows – Five Reading Highlights of 2017


January, month of rebirth and self-recrimination.  For every resolution to improve there must be some frank assessment of what debilitated you in the first place, and so the month can take on a curiously Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect for some.  So my Tuesday posts for this month will be a mixture of what is good and bad in my reading, and where better to start than a celebration of the previous 12 months?

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#328: Sir John Magill’s Last Journey (1930) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Sir John Magill's Last JourneyThis 2017 HarperCollins reprint — under the title Inspector French and Sir John Magill’s Last Journey — is 309 pages long and took me, almost to the hour, two full weeks to read.  Ordinarily this would be the sign of a very bad book indeed, but, with the end of term and then Christmas to negotiate, had it been any less good — honestly, now — I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  The fractured, disrupted natured of such a reading experience requires the mind to keep plot details fresh while also contending with the busiest time of a busy year, and the clarity amidst complexity of Crofts’ plotting here is joy unconfined to my puzzle-fixated mind.  And with the Nativity headed back into its box, here’s why.

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#285: The Sea Mystery (1928) by Freeman Wills Crofts

The Sea MysteryFirst thing first: yes, I’m aware that the 2017 Collins Crime Club edition of this novel — for which I am eternally grateful, since it has enabled me to read it in the first place — has been reissued with the title Inspector French and the Sea Mystery.  What can I say?  I’m a stickler for origins, and so am reviewing it under the original title.  My delight at having Crofts back in print is undimmed, and if building an MCU-esque awareness through uniformity in titles helps the books gain popularity and leads to even more Crofts back in print, hell, I’m all for it.  And, while we’re on the subject of these new editions, the covers are exquisite — simple, direct, clean, beautifully evocative…a great job.

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