#563: The Rose in Darkness (1979) by Christianna Brand

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I don’t think I’ve ever disliked the cast of a novel as much as I disliked the core group of The Rose in Darkness (1979) by Christianna Brand.  Goddamn, what a bunch of self-centred, self-congratulatory, self-satisfied, smug, pretentious, vacuous, condescending, poseur, low-rent hipster prigs.  You say ‘bohemian’, I say ‘unbearable’ — were people really like this in the Seventies?  And, because Brand does her usual thing of telling you up front that there’s one victim and one killer, you know that once the body turns up you’re stuck with the rest of them until the end.  Good heavens, there’s never a serial killer around when you need one.

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#557: The Gilded Man (1942) by Carter Dickson

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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…

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#554: The Case of the Solid Key (1941) by Anthony Boucher

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Several years ago, discovering that the impossible crime novel was a thing, I read Anthony Boucher’s Nine Times Nine (1940), originally published as by H.H. Holmes, and loved it.  I then discovered TomCat’s list of favourite impossible crime novels and was intrigued by the fact that, eschewing the accepted classic that Nine Times Nine is, Boucher’s later, less discussed The Case of the Solid Key (1941) was included there instead (TC, it must be said, is something of an iconoclast…).  More Boucher followed, some of it disappointing, and last year I finally ran to ground a copy of TCotSK in a secondhand bookshop in Philadelphia and — at long, long last — here we go.

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