#649: The Curse of the Bronze Lamp, a.k.a. Lord of the Sorcerers (1945) by Carter Dickson

Curse of the Bronze Lampstar filledstar filledstarsstarsstars
You may view the above rating of this book as too harsh, and you may be right.  Honestly, I’ve struggled with how good The Curse of the Bronze Lamp, a.k.a. Lord of the Sorcerers (1945) may or may not be, and it certainly has its fans — at one point John Dickson Carr apparently considered it among the four of his own books that he enjoyed the most.  But the key thing I keep coming back to is how this novel, rooted as it is in Egyptian curses and an apparent vanishing in a ghostly old family pile, written by a man who could stir up sulfur and brimstone with a well-place adjective and could summon the most wonderful patterns from the most perplexing of mysteries, is so very forgettable.

Continue reading

#641: Killed on the Rocks (1990) by William L. DeAndrea

Killed on the Rocksstar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
The brain works in funny ways. TomCat has been a champion of Killed on the Rocks (1990), the sixth novel to feature William L. DeAndrea’s semi-amateur sleuth Matt Cobb, for as long as I can remember.  I learned of this book from TC’s list of favourite impossible crime novels, and was delighted to find a copy about 16 months ago, but it would have sat on my shelves for a long time yet — because, dude, my TBR is haunting — had I not learned, quite by accident, that DeAndrea himself died at the tragically tender age of 44.  I can’t explain the logic, but I suddenly had the urge to read this, and the desire to enjoy it…and now I’ve done both.

Continue reading

#638: Death Out of Nowhere (1945) by Alexis Gensoul & Charles Grenier [trans. John Pugmire 2019]

Death out of Nowherestar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
Seventeen. John Pugmire has now, through Locked Room International, published 17 previously-non-Anglophone books from the Roland Lacourbe-curated Locked Room Library list, all but one being his own translations.  This brings LRI’s roster up to 38 books, a frankly incredible achievement (and hopefully a long way from finished yet), comprising among others Paul Halter, a shin honkaku renaissance, and a reprint of Locked Room Murders by Robert Adey and a completely new follow-up.  And still the great titles keep on coming, including this unheralded little gem from Alexis Gensoul and Charles Grenier — one of three books Gensoul wrote in 1945.

Continue reading

#602: In the First Degree (1933) by Roger Scarlett

Roger Scarlett v3star filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstar filled
It’s been a fun ride with Dorothy Blair and Evelyn Page, but now we reach the end.  A mere five books came from these two ladies under their Roger Scarlett nom de plume, and it’s thanks to the tireless work of the folk at Coachwhip publications — and GAD’s own Curtis Evans — that these hugely enjoyable novels have been made available again.  Because enjoy them I have, and my feelings about this final volume are amplified by having read all that preceded it; without that context, I (and possibly you — be forewarned) would not have gotten quite as much out of this last hurrah.  As it is, and as you can clearly see above, I loved it to bits.

Continue reading

#557: The Gilded Man, a.k.a. Death and the Gilded Man (1942) by Carter Dickson

Gilded Man, Thestar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
It had been my intention to review a book by a new-to-me author this week, but thankfully I was able to get to it a little ahead of time and watch disconsolately as, after a bright start, it fizzled out to nothing (man, some Silver Age stuff has a lot to answer for…).  Instead, here’s another from John Dickson Carr’s era of tight, house-set puzzles which range from masterpieces (The Reader is Warned (1939), The Seat of the Scornful (1941)) to very good (The Crooked Hinge (1938), The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942)) to, er, Seeing is Believing (1941).  And with The Gilded Man (1942) being somewhat overlooked, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get…

Continue reading

#537: Adventures in Self-Publishing – The Murder at Redmire Hall (2018) by J.R. Ellis

murder at redmire hall, the

When might a self-published novel not be a self-published novel?  That’s the quandary I face with J.R. Ellis’ third book, Murder at Redmire Hall (2018).  See, it’s technically published by Thomas & Mercer, but they’re simply an imprint of Amazon Publishing and the line between what’s different about this and simply uploading it to Amazon oneself gets blurrier the more you look at it.

Continue reading