#447: The Criminous Alphabet – A is for…Alibi [Part 2 of 2]

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Last week I talked — at great length — about the alibi in crime and detective fiction as utilised by the criminal working alone.  This week, I’ll hopefully find as much (or, depending on your feelings about last week’s post, maybe less) to say where more than one criminal is involved, and then if there’s time I’ll diverge into crimes where there is no alibi.

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#417: The Ponson Case (1921) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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Freeman Wills Crofts’ second novel The Ponson Case (1921) recently enjoyed a reissue thanks to the superlative efforts of HarperCollins and their revived Detective Club imprint.  Nevertheless, I’m not passing up the opportunity to flaunt my pristine House of Stratus edition, with a cover so fabulous that it was recently reused for Martin Edwards’ genre-sweeping study The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (2017).  Since Crofts himself spoiled his debut The Cask (1920) in The Sea Mystery (1928), I’m skipping that for now but shall otherwise read him chronologically until I run out of books, and hope HarperCollins seize the chance for a full reprint in the meantime…

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#388: Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into another complex alibi problem so soon after Cut Throat (1932) by Christopher Bush.  But if anyone can convince me of the joys of alibi-breaking it’s Freeman Wills Crofts, and so off I went in hope of some fiendish minutiae to get the brain cogitating with possibilities.  As it happens, I need not have worried — there is no complex alibi-breaking here.  Sure, there’s a grand mix of ratiocination and weighing the odds on the way to intelligent deductive work, but this is decidedly a ‘wrong man on the run’-style thriller before it’s a novel of routine.  Were pithiness my forte, I’d probably make an ‘Alfred Hitchcrofts’ reference.

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#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

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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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