#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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#374: Spoiler Warning 6 – Invisible Weapons (1938) by John Rhode

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about the 1938 impossible crime novel Invisible Weapons by John Rhode, one of the many noms de plume of Cecil John Charles Street.  We — and by “we” I mean myself and Aidan, who blogs at a frankly prodigious rate over at Mysteries Ahoy! — shall be doing this with many and much spoilers, and from this point on will give away, like, everything.

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#251: Death in the Tunnel (1936) by Miles Burton

Death in the TunnelWhile we can be thankful for real-life developments in forensic science that enable the speedier detection of criminals, there can be little argument that it was the death-knell of good detective fiction.  Dull Inspector Arnold and his genius amateur sidekick Desmond Merrion spend so much time combing through the minutiae of the physical and mental aspect of the crime in Death in the Tunnel, and come up with such entertaining possibilities while doing so, that a crime scene tech in one of those all-over white body suits could never be a fifth as much fun.  It makes me all the more appreciative of this kind of classic approach, knowing that this sort of book has seen its heyday pass.

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#190: A Smell of Smoke (1959) by Miles Burton

smell-of-smokeOver the summer, I read certain sections of Masters of the Humdrum Mystery by the blogosphere’s very own Passing Tramp, Curtis EvansCertain sections because, to be perfectly honest, Curtis has done an amazing job in analysing so much of the work of J.J. Connington, Freeman Wills Crofts, and John Rhode/Miles Burton that it’s clear I need to do a lot more reading to get the most out of what he has written.  Upon (in fact, while) reading A Smell of Smoke I went back to see what insight Curtis could offer to explore Street’s motivations or intentions, but there is no mention of it at all; no fault of his, as Street published over 130 novels under his two most famous pseudonyms, but I suspect I know why it doesn’t get a mention: it isn’t very good at all.

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#23: Death Leaves No Card (1944) by Miles Burton

Death LeavesA door is broken down, a dead body is found behind it; there is no other exit from the room, but equally no sign of a weapon nor any evidence of suicide…these classic staples of the archetypal impossible murder are put on page one of Miles Burton’s Death Leaves No Card.  Added to this is the puzzle of precisely how the deceased came to decease, as there is sign of neither violence nor harm on the body, no evidence of poison or gassing, and, this being the early 1940s, the house is not yet fitted with electricity so it can’t have been electrocution.  It may or may not be a locked room, since the window might or might not have been open, but the unclear nature of the death definitely makes it an impossible crime in my eyes.  Either way, cue sensible Inspector Henry Arnold.

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