#833: Murder on the Way! (1935) by Theodore Roscoe

Murder on the Way

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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.

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#709: The African Poison Murders, a.k.a. Death of an Aryan (1939) by Elspeth Huxley

African Poison Murders

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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…

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#472: The Pit-Prop Syndicate (1922) by Freeman Wills Crofts

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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.

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#467: Seven—And Death Makes Eight – The Game’s Afloat in The Last of Sheila (1973) [Scr. Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, Dir. Herbert Ross]

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I’ve not reviewed a movie here on The Invisible Event before, but then The Last of Sheila (1973) is not your average movie.  I first became aware of it at the Bodies from the Library conference in 2017, when it was recommended as one of the few examples of a fair-play mystery in long format, and that was enough for me.

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#460: Dead Men Don’t Ski (1959) by Patricia Moyes

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It’s fitting that Noah’s review of Dead Men Don’t Ski (1959), is what first brought the book to my attention, because the novel exemplifies for me a strata of fiction that I only got thinking about on account of Noah’s own, far superior, ruminations on the subject.  Much like Murder on Safari (1938) by Elspeth Huxley, contemporary familiarity with the milieu would probably see this classified as ‘cozy’ these days — but to do so would be to ignorantly overlook the newness of this sort of setting at the time of writing.  I’m tempted to call these Travelogue Mysteries, where the setting appeals as much as the crime on account of how novel it would have been at the time.

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#437: Murder on Safari (1938) by Elspeth Huxley

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Lightning could strike twice, right?  I went into Max Murray’s The Voice of the Corpse (1948) last week knowing nothing about it and that turned out rather well, and no less authorities than Xavier Lechard and Nick Fuller had enthused about this in recent weeks.  Plus, in the comments on that above post, TomCat — who knows my standards pretty well, I feel — called Murder on Safari (1938) “a wonderfully written detective story with a splendid backdrop, [that] plays scrupulously fair with the reader”.  So, despite (deliberately) knowing nothing about this one either, this wasn’t a risk at all.  Kick back, and let the good times roll.

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