A title like The Door with Seven Locks (1926) suggests all manner of locked room excitement, hopefully resulting is some impossible crime shenanigans. So imagine my surprise when this ended up being little more than a straight thriller with some (perhaps not unexpectedly, this is Edgar Wallace after all) weird ideas at its core.Continue reading
#1064: The Case of the Late Pig (1937) by Margery Allingham
I’m in a confusing place with Margery Allingham. I definitely read three of her books when I started getting into Golden Age detective fiction, one of which, I’m almost certain, was The Beckoning Lady (1955) and very hard work indeed. A few years passed, and I next thoroughly enjoyed the amoral ingenuity of Police at the Funeral (1931) before stumbling badly over Flowers for the Judge (1936) and sort of abandoning her, faintly dissatisfied. So when The Case of the Late Pig (1937) passed into my hands, the mere 132 pages of this Penguin edition commended themselves as an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the author and see how things go.
#1042: Minor Felonies – The Good Turn (2022) by Sharna Jackson
Well, it took seven-and-a-half years and over one thousand posts, but it’s finally happened: I have read a book about which I can find nothing to say.Continue reading
#1015: Epitaph for a Spy (1938) by Eric Ambler
Epitaph for a Spy (1938) places me at the centre of a Venn diagram of two things I heartily dislike — the everyman espionage fiction of John le Carre, and novels whose protagonists cluelessly accidentally their way along — and so I shouldn’t exactly be surprised that these two wrongs have failed to combine to produce something I would enjoy. This story of languages teacher Josef Vadassy strong-armed into helping identify a spy while on holiday at an exclusive French pension is, in fact, riddled with just about every trope and facet of genre fiction that I dislike, and it’s difficult to imagine Eric Ambler’s intent in writing such a book. But, I get ahead of myself…
#990: Payment Deferred (1926) by C.S. Forester
It seems almost indecent that someone should have the inspiration to write a book like Payment Deferred (1926) before Anthony Berkeley had conceived of his Francis Iles nom de plume and written Malice Aforethought (1931). And yet there’s something unformed about C.S. Forester’s tale of ill-gotten money, murder, and general moral decay that speaks to the callowness of the undertaking. Land sakes, don’t read this if you’re having a bad week — its unrelenting grimness and domestic horror would dent even the sunniest of dispositions — and avoid it, too, if you want a tight criminous plot with even a sniff of Iles-brand irony. This is dark stuff, unleavened at any stage.
#942: In the Heat of the Night (1965) by John Ball
In their debut novel, an outsider is arrested on suspicion of murder in a small town in the southern USA, only to quickly turn out to be innocent and have specialist investigative knowledge which they put to use helping the police and solving the crime. Having highlighted the folly of underestimating someone based on appearances alone, this character goes on to feature in a long-running series of books, two films that will see them forever linked to the actor who portrays them, and a television series. Today, we look at that debut appearance, the first time Jack Reache…uh, Virgil Tibbs sallied forth: In the Heat of the Night (1965) by John Ball.