#311: The Boat Race Murder (1933) by R.E. Swartwout

515ukrt9apl-_sx319_bo1204203200_I have never quite understood the preoccupation with the Oxford v. Cambridge: Dawn of Justice boat race; it reeks of a class consciousness that belongs in an older, less enlightened time and should, therefore, be a perfect match for my beloved GAD.  And so here we are, with Swartwout coxing the 1930 Cambridge crew to victory and so having an insider’s eye that should provide plenty of contemporary interest.  And a locked bathroom with a dead body in it, too, the key found on the floor inside once the door is broken in…and this after a discussion about detective fiction and how to go about committing a baffling murder that name-checks Freeman Wills Crofts.  Sounds good, right?  Well, it isn’t, for quite a lot of reasons.  Let’s attempt to explain them.

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#136: Darkness at Pemberley (1932) by T.H. White

Darkness at Pemberley GollanczI’d like to get a fundamental contention out of the way: T.H. White’s sole detective novel Darkness at Pemberley came to my attention for the locked room murder that opens it, but I don’t feel it qualifies an impossible crime (the room can be unlocked at will, for one…).  Had White made a couple of different narrative choices — not even in the scheme itself, purely in the structure of how he presents the problem — then it could be an ‘impossible alibi’ problem.  But he doesn’t.  You’re told the guilty party before they’ve had a chance to really fall under suspicion or even mention the alibi they’ve given themself, and so you have a well-that-would-have-been-impossible-if-they’d-been-given-a-chance-to-deny-it crime.  Which I’m pretty sure is a new sub-sub-genre, though perhaps not one that we’ll get many further books in…

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