#862: “All roads lead to death. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.” – The 5 False Suicides (2021) by James Scott Byrnside

I haven’t pursued any Adventures in Self-Publishing, in which I read and review self-published works featuring impossible crimes, since October 2020. Well, the good news is that James Scott Byrnside, star pupil of the AiSP Academy, released his fourth book in December 2021, and so now we can saddle up the horse again and get adventurin’.

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#857: Minor Felonies – The Secret Detectives (2021) by Ella Risbridger

While far from his best work, The Blind Barber (1934) by John Dickson Carr does contain the brilliant problem of a corpse appearing on a passenger liner mid-voyage with no passenger or crew member apparently having died to provide it. Ella Risbridger’s juvenile mystery debut The Secret Detectives (2021) works from the same principle, with 11 year-old Isobel Petty seeing someone thrown overboard one stormy night…and yet the next morning no-one is missing.

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#855: The Wintringham Mystery, a.k.a. Cicely Disappears (1927) by Anthony Berkeley [a.p.a. by A. Monmouth Platts]

Wintringham Mystery

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Even though — or perhaps, because — I’m a fan of Anthony Berkeley Cox’s work, I approach him with some trepidation. At his best you get the innovative brilliance of The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929), while among his failures is the repetitious turgidity of The Second Shot (1930) or Not to be Taken (1938).  Thankfully, The Wintringham Mystery (1927), originally serialised in the Daily Mirror in 1926 before being reworked as a novel, falls squarely in the former camp: a witty, playful, brisk Country House puzzler bafflingly out of print for nearly a century that’s so good it would justify a full reprint of the man’s work on its own.

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#853: “He is an old friend, you know, and he is very much interested…” – John Thorndyke’s Cases, a.k.a. Dr. Thorndyke’s Cases [ss] (1909) by R. Austin Freeman

After a tough few months in which I have been very grateful for the support of good friends and the presence of good books, let’s discuss the latter, eh? Kicking off 2022 is John Thorndyke’s Cases (1909), the first collection of short stories to feature Richard Austin Freeman’s medical jurist.

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#850: Penelope’s Web (2001) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2021]

Penelope's Web

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In my recent conversation with Nick about Jonathan Creek, I reflected on how a chance encounter with that television programme ended up having a profound effect upon my interests. No less profound an effect was brought about by my purchasing of John Pugmire’s translation of The Fourth Door (1987, tr. 1999) by Paul Halter back in 2013. The annual Halter translations Pugmire publishes through Locked Room International are a highlight of my year, having provided a window on the French mystery in the Golden Age and beyond (thanks almost entirely to Pugmire’s translations of many other classics), and being a riotously fun time along the way.

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#847: “Vital and immediate. Vital and immediate.” – ‘Secret Radio’ [rp] (1944) by John Dickson Carr

If you were fortunate enough to get one of the 150 hardcover editions of The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from the Casebook of Cabin B-13 (2020) by John Dickson Carr — and I was — you also got an additional pamphlet containing the play ‘Secret Radio’ (1944). And so, having completed my reviews of the collection proper, I turn my attention to this delightful appendix.

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