On page 110 of 355 of Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Premeditated Myrtle (2020) we learn that 12 year-old Myrtle Hardcastle starts reading novels in the middle because “beginnings were often boring”. Thankfully the unproved murder on which the entire book to that point has hung is finally suspected a few pages later and the book comes to life at last, but there’s an uncomfortably meta air to the criticism at the time.Continue reading
I can’t believe that there is a GAD enthusiast who doesn’t look forward to the annual Bodies from the Library collections so expertly curated by Tony Medawar. In bringing to public awareness some of the forgotten, neglected, or simply unknown stories that the great and the good of the form produced, these collections have become a source of great excitement, and a must-read for even the most ardent student of the Golden Age.Continue reading
The last time I checked out a modern impossible crime novel on the increasingly-tenuous pretence that this is being done exclusively for the beneft of TomCat, I took a swing at something that turned out to (maybe?) contain no impossibility at all. Thankfully that won’t happen again. Right?Continue reading
It’s fair to say that, in the course of writing this blog over the last six years, I have become known as something of a plot fiend. Atmosphere is lovely, memorable characters are preferable, social commentary perfectly acceptable, but what drew me to classic-era detective fiction was the possibilities of plot and plenty of it. On that front, Waltz into Darkness (1947), Cornell Woolrich’s 1880s-set epic of catfishing, revenge, and much more besides should leave me cold — heavy on emotion, laden with dread, fond of repetition to hammer home obvious points…everythng that should send me running. And yet, damn, I wish this probably 120,000-word book was twice as long.
I struggle to think of the last thing I read that disappointed me as much as F. Tennyson Jesse’s 1930 edit of Lassiter Wren and Randle McKay’s Baffle Book puzzles. From stories where subtle changes in detail make finding the solution impossible (‘The Warfield-Cobham Jewel Robbery’) to those whose insistence of physical evidence is so ignorant as to defy explanation (‘The Wayside Mystery’) it’s been a…not good time.Continue reading
It has long been a belief of mine that science fiction invented the interlinked trilogy — rarely seen better on the page than in Isaac Asimov’s first Foundation troika (1951-53) and on the screen in Episodes IV-VI (1977-83) of the Star Wars movie universe.Continue reading
Let’s get the new year off to a happy start by showing some appreciation for contemporary authors who make life difficult for themselves by upholding the traditions of Golden Age detective fiction in their own works. And, if you want to discuss modern detective fiction, few are better-placed than Puzzle Doctor, a.k.a. Steve from In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.Continue reading
While I don’t quite share the optimism of my fellow impossible crime aficionado TomCat that a second Golden Age of detective fiction is on the horizon, there can be no denying that some great neo-orthodox detective novels have been written in recent years by the likes of James Scott Byrnside, Anthony Horowitz, and (with a heavy emphasis on the neo) Stuart Turton.Continue reading