#924: The Curse of the Reckaviles (1927) by Walter S. Masterman

Curse of the Reckaviles

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How to explain my fascination with the work of Walter S. Masterman? The five books I’ve read so far are all written in a sprawling, loose style evoking detective fiction’s Victorian forebears — as if actually penned in the 1880s and discovered in a trunk before being published during the genre’s Golden Age — and the consequent veering of his plots should vex me immensely. And yet I keep returning to these Ramble House reprints because there’s something fascinating about Masterman’s insistence on writing books in this style despite the genre accelerating away from him. I mean, RH have published twenty-five of his novels…so he was hardly a flash in the pan.

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#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.

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#921: The Footprints on the Ceiling (1939) by Clayton Rawson

Footprints on the Ceiling

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This might be the longest-gestating punchline in blogging history, but it was also about time I returned to Clayton Rawson. Ever since the American Mystery Classics reissued Rawson’s debut novel Death from a Top Hat (1938), I’ve been waiting for them to release his second, The Footprints on the Ceiling (1939), so that I could finally experience it. And then I discovered a few months ago that I’d already bought Footprints as an ebook and it had been waiting, long-forgotten, on my e-reader of choice. And, as someone who feels Rawson’s best work might have been his short stories, I have to say that I very much enjoyed…most of this.

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

Life of Crime

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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.

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#913: “You people have the most cheerful imaginations…” – It Walks by Night (1930) by John Dickson Carr

With the superb British Library Crime Classics range having recently published its one hundredth title, and with doubtless many more books still in its future, the time seems ripe to revisit one of its most exciting reprints, It Walks by Night (1930) the novel-length debut of John Dickson Carr and his first sleuth, Henri Bencolin.

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#912: Phantom Lady (1942) by Cornell Woolrich [a.p.a. by William Irish]

Phanton Lady

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I hadn’t intended Phantom Lady (1942) to be my next Cornell Woolrich read — that was going to be a revisit of the short story collection Nightwebs (1971) which so underwhelmed me and put me off Woolrich for two decades, only for me to fall in love with the man’s work recently — but, after his own glowing review of this title, I don’t think Ben at The Green Capsule would have forgiven me if I’d gone anywhere else. And, honestly, I’m having such a blast with Woolrich’s nightmarescapes that I was probably going to enjoy whatever I read…but, woo, can I ever see why he wanted me to read this one. So, attempting to avoid nudges, winks, and spoilers that might mar your enjoyment, here goes…

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