In GAD We Trust – Episode 8: Uncovering Long-Forgotten Short Stories + Bodies from the Library 3 (2020) ed. Tony Medawar [w’ Tony Medawar]

In GAD We Trust BftL3

Today was due to have been the sixth (sixth!) Bodies from the Library conference at the British Library but, for obvious reasons, it’s not.  I can’t, alas, give you a whole day of GAD-based discussion, but I can at least fill an hour with someone from that line-up of exceptionally knowledgable people, Tony Medawar.

Continue reading

#685: The Murders in Praed Street (1928) by John Rhode

Murders in Praed Street Thestar filledstar filledstar filledstarsstars
One evening, responding to a phone call from the local hospital requesting that he identify a man involved in an accident, Mr. James Tovey, Fruit and Vegetable Merchant on London’s Praed Street, discovers he’s the victim of a prank and that no such call was made by anyone at the hospital.  On the short walk home, he encounters a group of men outside the local pub and…there endeth his story, for he is stabbed and dies shortly thereafter.  With the group all claiming innocence, and talk of a scar-faced sailor seen in the vicinity, the event is put down to a senseless tragedy until circumstances link it to another death on the same stretch of road.  And another.  And another.

Continue reading

#590: Mystery at Olympia, a.k.a. Murder at the Motor Show (1935) by John Rhode

Mystery at Olympiastar filledstar filledstar filledstarsstars
While Freeman Wills Crofts’ work has caused me much delight over the last few years, that of his fellow ‘Humdrum’ John Rhode/Miles Burton doesn’t inspire in me quite the same raptures.  Rhode (as I’ll call him here) writes swift, events-focussed novels, and constructs plots with the same deliberation and consideration from multiple sides…so maybe it’s that his plots always feel like a single idea with some people bolted onto it.  Here as in Death Leaves No Card (1944) or Invisible Weapons (1938) I come away with the impression that he read about a single obscure murder method and thought “Yeah, I can get 60,000 words out of that”.

Continue reading

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

Fatal Descentstar filledstar filledstar filledstarsstars
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.

Continue reading

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

spoiler-warning

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.

Continue reading

#298: Five to…Try? – Books on My TBR That I Will Probably Never Read

Books waiting

We’ve all done it — in the excitement of finally stumbling across a novel by an author we’ve heard a lot about (or maybe heard nothing about, if you’re feeling adventurous) you snap up a book, take it home…and it lingers and lingers on your TBR, staring at you every time you go near your bookshelves to pick something out.  The guilt of its unread-ness builds inside of you, but the inclination to actually open it and read it never quite matches the initial rush of blood to the head that saw you buy it in the first place.

Continue reading

#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.

Continue reading

#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.

Continue reading