Had I gotten round to this sooner, it may have qualified as a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat attempt, but TomCat has already read this one and so really all that remained was to see if I was equally underwhelmed by it.
As a GAD reader, there’s little more satisfying than closing a book that came through on its promise — the ingenious impossibilitiy was ingenious, the baffling alibi trick was smartly worked, the clues stuck their heads out at you from all over the place, and the detective summed it all up with an added twist just to prove how dolt-headed you, the reader, are.
A brief search of the interwebs reveals that David Beckham has thirty, Britney Spears twenty-three, Christina Aguilera fifteen, Beyoncé fourteen, Katy Perry 9, and Ariana Grande a mere 5 — it’s not my area of expertise, however, so some of those numbers may be a little out.
I apologise if I appear to be giving some import to my own fevered speculations here, but a few weeks ago I wrote that “I absolutely commend the role literature plays in helping people, young or otherwise, make sense of the world around them, but it’s also nice that sometimes a novel about a couple of 11 year-olds solving a murder can just be about a couple of 11 year-olds solving a murder”. I referenced it once already, and now I’m doing it again. Yeesh, my ego.
We are 30 pages into Dead Man Control (1936) when the case is sealed up beyond any doubt: a millionaire shot dead in his study, the door locked and bolted on the inside, his new, much younger wife unconscious on the floor (her fingerprints on the gun, too), no hiding places, and freshly fallen snow on all the window-ledges to preclude the clandestine exit of anyone else who could have been present. Clearly the wife dunnit, and everyone can go home early today. So therefore Inspector Christopher McKee has to be summoned back to New York from his holiday in England because…er, it looks too easy? And as he investigates, secrets there was no reason to suspect begin to spill out…
For reasons that are not entirely clear — he is not mentioned in the synopsis, nor the single review of this item at the time of writing (which is itself a single word — “Read” — whose tense is undetermined), nor used as a “For fans of…” comparison — this title appears when you search for Paul Halter on the world’s largest website of buying anything. And it happens to be a self-published impossible crime story, so why wouldn’t I buy it? The question is, should you?