The only frustration I feel towards the Adventures on Trains series by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman is that I didn’t discover it sooner. Because, see, then I’d be four books deep into this wonderful, charming, clever series — with a fifth on the way soon — rather than the mere two I am.Continue reading
Approximately five years ago, powered by a combination of ego and ignorance, I set about trying get Murder on the Way! (1935) by Theodore Roscoe reprinted, based on its reputation as a cracker and its infuriating unavailability. To my frank surprise I succeeded, and it — and Roscoe’s Second World War-predicting I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) — was republished by Bold Venture Press in 2017. Rereading it recently, it seemed due a reappraisal — well, an appraisal, really — since I edited the book without any notion of whether it was any good, and was too fixated on matters typographical to focus all that intently on, like, the plot and stuff.
A few years ago, I got the Night Riviera sleeper train from London Paddington to Penzance. When we reached our destination, after a good night’s sleep, I was disappointed to discover that no-one had been bafflingly murdered while en route and that my skills as an amateur detective were not required.Continue reading
Elspeth Huxley’s Murder on Safari (1938) used its uncommon milieu and the author’s own experiences of life in Kenya as a young girl to enrich what might have otherwise been a ham-handed attempt to introduce some ‘variety’ into the annals of detective fiction. Its reliance on the trappings of safari life, and on the general ignorance of her policeman Superintendent Vachell to introduce the unfamiliar aspects to the reader, worked well with some unusual clues to mark it out as a very accomplished piece of detective fiction…right up until the reveal of the killer, when it all sort of fell apart. And lightning, it seems, has struck twice…
Back in 2015, before I’d ever opened any of Freeman Wills Crofts’ works, Puzzle Doctor reviewed The Pit-Prop Syndicate (1922) at his place and ended by saying “I could go on, but I’ll just keep writing euphemisms for BORING BOOK over and over again. Absolutely, 100%, NOT RECOMMENDED. I’d go so far as Actively Avoid”. Shortly after reading that I broke my first bread with Crofts and, almost exactly three years later, I’ve read and loved seven Crofts novels and — in a move some might consider hasty — have tracked down all but four of his oeuvre. Still, I picked this one up with the Doc’s warning echoing in the back of my skull. Gulp.