#391: Fatal Descent, a.k.a. Drop to His Death (1939) by John Rhode and Carter Dickson

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In the style of Sesame Street, today’s review is brought to you by In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel‘s Puzzle Doctor, who kindly leant me this book following years of me failing to find an affordable copy.  And, boy, what an exciting prospect it is: no mere “one chapter each” in the style of ‘Behind the Screen’ (1930), ‘The Scoop’ (1931), or The Floating Admiral (1932), this is a proper collaboration between two of the Golden Age’s titans: Carter Dickson, a.k.a. John Dickson Carr, and John Rhode, a.k.a. Miles Burton — two gentlemen who individually devised a greater library of brilliant means of criminal dispatch than almost any other pair you’d care to name.

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#389: Adventures in Self-Publishing – Confessional (2016) by Robert Innes

Confessional

Two months after reading Untouchable (2016), the first of Robert Innes’ now six-strong series of self-published impossible mysteries, I’m back with the second instalment.  This time around, parishioners keep having heart attacks in the confession booth of the small Catholic church in the (aptly named, it must be said) village of Harmschapel.  “I think the only suspects you have so far are high cholesterol and God,” DS Blake Harte is told at one point — or is something more sinister going on?

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#388: Inspector French and the Cheyne Mystery (1926) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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I wasn’t sure I wanted to dive into another complex alibi problem so soon after Cut Throat (1932) by Christopher Bush.  But if anyone can convince me of the joys of alibi-breaking it’s Freeman Wills Crofts, and so off I went in hope of some fiendish minutiae to get the brain cogitating with possibilities.  As it happens, I need not have worried — there is no complex alibi-breaking here.  Sure, there’s a grand mix of ratiocination and weighing the odds on the way to intelligent deductive work, but this is decidedly a ‘wrong man on the run’-style thriller before it’s a novel of routine.  Were pithiness my forte, I’d probably make an ‘Alfred Hitchcrofts’ reference.

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#383: Success, and Being a Victim Thereof in ‘The Fires of Hell’ (2016) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2016]

EQMM May June 2018

Having recently reviewed Paul Halter’s short story collection The Night of the Wolf (2006), and having previously shared my thoughts on Soji Shimada’s ‘The Running Dead’ (1985), Szu-Yen Lin’s ‘The Ghost of the Badminton Court’ (2004), and Halter’s own ‘The Yellow Book’ (2017) all from the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, the time seems perfect to look at the newest Halter translation to come our way — the short story ‘The Fires of Hell’, published in this month’s EQMM.

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#382: The Night of the Wolf [ss] (2006) by Paul Halter [trans. Robert Adey & John Pugmire 2004]

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With Christian recently starting his blog looking at impossible crimes in short fiction, and with a new Paul Halter translation in the current issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, the time seemed ripe to go back and reread this collection of Halter’s short fiction and get my thoughts on record.  Originally published in English by Wildside Press in 2006 (in slightly modified form from its original 2000 publication in French) and then taken in by Halter’s subsequent English publisher Locked Room International, the ten stories here serve as a great primer for the breadth of Halter’s ingenuity, and rediscovering them has been a huge amount of fun.

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