#481: The Seat of the Scornful, a.k.a. Death Turns the Tables (1941) by John Dickson Carr

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It’s cold outside, it’s dark outside — yes, thank-you, The Southern Hemisphere, no-one likes a smartarse — Christmas is over; time to battle through with some beloved authors.  First up, and most beloved of them all despite a recent charge by Freeman Wills Crofts, Mr. John Dickson Carr and Dr. Gideon Fell, here engaged in no showy impossibilities but instead the sort of low-key case for which Carr doesn’t get enough credit.  Where the relative simplicity of this might lead to this being overlooked, I’d argue that its restrained execution and structure are so brilliantly without flaw that the more easily you dismiss it the more you’re falling into the very trap it lays.

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#469: The Man Who Loved Clouds (1999) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2018]

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The last time anyone tried to use the wind as a threatening murder weapon we got The Happening (2008) from the, er, mind of M. Night Shyamalan.  Nine years prior, however, Paul Halter had written about the small coastal village of Pickering in 1936, and the youthful, ethereal Stella Deverell predicting the deaths of locals ahead of the storms and winds that batter the vicinity.  And what Stella predicts comes to pass: not just deaths, but madness, relationships breaking down, and unforeseeable good fortune for fishermen.  Add in her own talents in making gold from rocks and vanishing without a trace and you’ve got an impossible crime tale on your hands…

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#441: The Criminous Alphabet – A is for…Amateur

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So here’s a new thing: I am going to use Tuesday posts (at indeterminate intervals) to talk about some (usually unconnected) ideas within Golden Age Detection (GAD) that can be grouped approximately by initial.  I’m calling it The Criminous Alphabet — rejected titles included The A to Z Murders, You Alpha-Bet Your Life, and GAD-Handing — and this month will see five posts based around the letter A, starting with the Amateur Detective.  Next time out will be B, the month after that C…you get the idea?  You get the idea.

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#434: Locked Room International is 30 – My Favourite 15 Books

LRI Thirty

Some months ago, in our podcast The Men Who Explain Miracles, first myself and then Dan chose our fifteen favourite locked room novels of all time.  In celebration of Locked Room International recently putting out their thirtieth fiction title, I have done essentially the same again, this time choosing solely from their catalogue: effectively, my personal picks for the ‘top half’ of their output to date.

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