#793: Minor Felonies/Little Fictions – ‘Mr. Manning’s Money Tree’ (1958) and ‘Larceny and Old Lace’ (1960) by Robert Arthur

It would be difficult to overstate the respect I have for the work done by Robert Arthur in the mystery genre. From creating The Three Investigators to turning out highly enjoyable fair-play mysteries for younger (and older) readers, the man displayed a brilliant creativity and a talent for diversity that makes every encounter with him a joy.

Continue reading

#712: The Thursday Murder Club (2020) by Richard Osman

Thursday Murder Clubstar filledstar filledstar filledstar filledstars
I really should not have enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club (2020) as much as I did. I’m an avowed devotee of the rigour of Freeman Wills Crofts and I have a nerdy podcast where we get far too serious about the minutiae of classic era detective fiction, for pity’s sake — a lightly comedic crime novel in which a group of septuagenarians inveigle their way into a murder investigation while worrying about the quality of supermarket own-brand biscuits should not raise from me even a curious eyebrow. And yet, honestly, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve been this charmed in years, and I haven’t laughed so much and so helplessly since reading Catch-22 (1961) when I was about 17.

Continue reading

#670: Sleeping Murder (1976) by Agatha Christie

Sleeping Murderstar filledstar filledstar filledstarsstars
Agatha Christie famously wrote the final novels to feature her two biggest sleuths well ahead of their publication, and where Hercule Poirot’s swansong Curtain (1975) was a joyous return to the heights for a character she had grown weary of, Sleeping Murder (1976) — the last hurrah for Miss Jane Marple, a character you can’t help but feel Christie had a growing respect for as she aged — is…fine.  Yes, it had a cogency and precision that At Bertram’s Hotel (1965) and Nemesis (1971) sorely needed, but in all honesty the sound and fury on display here signifies something that doesn’t even add up to a hill o’ beans, if you’ll forgive my mixing of classics.

Continue reading

#441: The Criminous Alphabet – A is for…Amateur

A is for

So here’s a new thing: I am going to use Tuesday posts (at indeterminate intervals) to talk about some (usually unconnected) ideas within Golden Age Detection (GAD) that can be grouped approximately by initial.  I’m calling it The Criminous Alphabet — rejected titles included The A to Z Murders, You Alpha-Bet Your Life, and GAD-Handing — and this month will see five posts based around the letter A, starting with the Amateur Detective.  Next time out will be B, the month after that C…you get the idea?  You get the idea.

Continue reading

#436: “I am in my own way an emissary of justice” – A Long Goodbye to Aunt Jane in Nemesis (1971) by Agatha Christie

Nemesis

After 41 years, 12 novels, and 20 short stories, Nemesis (1971) represents the end of the road for Agatha Christie and her spinster detective Miss Jane Marple.  Marple herself would survive her creator in the posthumously-published Sleeping Murder (1976), but since that was written decades prior — and the collection Miss Marple’s Final Cases (1979) consists of uncollected stories from much earlier in Christie’s career — this the final time they would have together.

Continue reading