I’m probably starting in the wrong place with this chronologically fourth collection of the Dr. Sam Hawthorne impossibilities by short story specialist Edward D. Hoch. However, it contains the very first Hoch story I ever read and so seemed as good a place as any to start. I’ve read maybe three Hawthornes in other collections and figured it would be good to end 2018 with a long-awaited perusal of them in greater concentration, and…well, I’m a little underwhelmed. Hoch has a talent for capturing ambience very piquantly, and the best of these stories are very good, but far too few of them have anything like the rigour or intelligence I’d expected given how highly-regarded this series seems to be.
Under the nom deplume Hake Talbot, the magician and author Henning Nelms published two novels and two short stories. Of the novels, The Hangman’s Handyman (1942) is generally overshadowed by the admittedly superior Rim of the Pit (1944); of the short stories, we tend to hear very little.
My first experience of the French crime/suspense duo Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac was the recent Pushkin Press reissue of She Who Was No More (1952, tr. 2015) and…well, I didn’t love it. But Adey lists this novella and so back on the horse we clamber.