In GAD We Trust – Episode 21: The Diversity of Approaches to Detective Fiction [w’ Martin Edwards]

The detective fiction genre is built around the essential structure of a crime, an investigation of that crime, and the revelation of the guilty party who committed the crime, and good heavens didn’t the Golden Age map out a lot of different ways to walk that path. And there are few people better placed to discuss this than President of the Detection Club and recent recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger Martin Edwards, who celebrates three decades as a published author this year.

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#791: Death at Breakfast (1936) by John Rhode

Death at Breakfast

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Is it damning Cecil Street with disgustingly faint praise to say that he has become the author about whose work I am most likely to say “Yeah, that’s pretty much what I expected”? Whether writing as Miles Burton or as John Rhode, he generally gives you a moderately interesting puzzle that would have been better if a little more time were devoted to its structure and contents. My admittedly small sampling of his work doesn’t display the variety of Freeman Wills Crofts nor the creative construction and elucidation of R. Austin Freeman, and that’s…fine. But given the materials at his fingertips it’s also…a little disappointing.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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”.

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#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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