#708: Adventures in Self-Publishing – Ill Wind (2020) by Jean Heller

Recently, while recording an episode of the rightly-popular Shedunnit podcast, I was moved to lament the decline in quality represented by most modern attempts at the impossible crime in fiction (and, for all I know, in reality, too). Today’s self-published crime novel, Ill Wind (2020) by Jean Heller, perhaps demonstrates the reasons for that decline better than I’ve previously managed myself.

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#704: “That’s an interesting choice of phrase, young man…” – The Dead Sleep Lightly (1983) by John Dickson Carr [ed. Douglas G. Greene] Part 1 of 2

It’s fair to say that no-one has done more for the curation of John Dickson Carr’s work than Douglas G. Greene: collecting various obscure short pieces in the likes of The Door to Doom and Other Detections (1980), Merrivale, March, and Murder (1991), and Fell and Foul Play (1991), writing the staggeringly comprehensive (and recently reprinted) biography The Man Who Explained Miracles (1995), and enabling, through Crippen & Landru, publication of two — soon to be three — collections of Carr’s radio scripts edited by Tony Medawar.

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#699: Jack-in-the-Box (1944) by J.J. Connington

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The devastation wrought by the First World War in the sheer quantity of life lost saw an upsurge in the popularity of spirit mediums, to the extent that no less an authority on the rational than Arthur Conan Doyle fell under their spell.  Given that this rise in open chicanery coincided with the birth of the detective novel, it surprises me that The Psychic Killer took such a long time to appear in GAD, perhaps owing to its intersection with the impossible crime and the associated difficulties of explaining away the tricks on the page — The Reader is Warned (1939) by Carter Dickson being easily the best example of a very, very small subset.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 9: Japanese-English Translation + The Honjin Murders (1946) by Seishi Yokomizo [w’ Louise Heal Kawai]

In GAD We Trust

A seam of superb Japanese detective novels and short stories have crossed the language barrier in recent years, teaching even the most culturally ignorant of us to tell our honkaku from our shin honkaku.  And here to give us a sense of the work involved in making that happen is literary translator Louise Heal Kawai.

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#693: My Late Wives (1946) by Carter Dickson

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As a reader, there’s a tension to be found at the heart of every writer’s work once it’s a closed set, especially when they’ve scaled the heights that John Dickson Carr did: with nothing else to be added, at what point does The Decline set in?  From Till Death Do Us Part (1944), arguably the pinnacle of his glittering career, it’s a sawtooth diagram of quality all the way to Papa La-Bas (1968), arguably the nadir, but at what point does a downward trajectory become the prevailing trend rather than the occasional, forgivable oversight?  It’s obviously impossible to pick the precise moment — helloooo, subjectivity — which inevitably makes such a moment impossible not to look for.

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