#930: Night at the Mocking Widow (1950) by Carter Dickson

Night at the Mocking Widow

star filledstar filledstarsstarsstars
I love a good village poison pen mystery but, as I’ve said before, they’re difficult to write because both the village and the mystery must convince and compel. Night at the Mocking Widow (1950), the twentieth book written under John Dickson Carr’s Carter Dickson nom de plume to feature Churchillian sleuth Sir Henry ‘H.M.’ Merrivale, starts off seeming like a great example of both…but once we hit the halfway stage and the impossible appearance and vanishing of the sinister Widow presents itself, the life rather goes out of things. From that point on, it feels more like a writing exercise than a novel, and one that Carr is forcing himself to complete.

Continue reading

#922: This Deadly Isle: A Golden Age Mystery Map (2022) by Martin Edwards [ill. Ryan Bosse]

After the very enjoyable work done by Herb Lester and Caroline Crampton in mapping the key locations of Agatha Christie’s English mysteries, it was surely only a matter of time before a similar project was attempted. And This Deadly Isle, which maps the locations of a raft of Golden Age mysteries across the country, is the delightful inevitable follow-up.

Continue reading

#918: The Life of Crime (2022) by Martin Edwards

Life of Crime

star filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstar filled
To me falls the honour of rounding off the blog tour for The Life of Crime (2022) by Martin Edwards, adding to the deserved praise it has already garnered elsewhere. This “personal journey through the genre’s past, with all the limitations and idiosyncrasies that implies” is a monumental achievement, encompassing the breadth and depth of a genre that is now a good couple of centuries old, and finding many nuggets to share about it along the way. And, since any study of a genre must inherently be about that genre to some extent, Edwards’ trump card here is to tell a story of crime writing that also sheds light on the need for such stories to exist in the first place.

Continue reading

#907: “Whimsical and bizarre conceits of this kind are common enough in the annals of crime…” – The Sign of Four, a.k.a. The Sign of the Four (1890) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My memory of The Sign of Four (1890), the second story to feature Sherlock Holmes from the pen of Arthur Conan Doyle, was that it offered little of interest or consequence, and stood rather as a footnote in the canon than a core text. And, rereading it for this post, I’ve come to realise that this impression is both quite right and very wrong indeed.

Continue reading