#231: Antidote to Venom (1938) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Antidote to VenomThe reputation for being something of an interminable bore that still dogs Freeman Wills Crofts some 60 years after his death wants for evidence in Antidote to Venom.  We’re about halfway through when the murder occurs, by which point you’ve had not only a highly sympathetic portrait of the central man in the affair, but also the convincing use of minor characters to create the situation in a way that relies on coincidence without feeling forced, an allusion to the Sherlock Holmes canon, and two — count ’em — legitimate jokes.  It is spry, focussed, beautifully rich in intrigue and heartbreak, and balances its inverted and traditional elements perfectly.  And when the investigation starts…oh, boy, are you in for a treat.

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#229: Carr vs. Christie…the Follow-Up


Last week we discussed the merits of what all y’all voted the two finest books by John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie in full spoiler style.  This week, Brad — who magnanimously locked horns with me — is hosting a follow-up where we air yet more of our favourite napery regarding these two and…well, go to his site and check it out…

Come back here next week for another follow-up where we’ll be…nah, I’m kidding.  We’re not going to flog this horse any more.

Are we, Brad?

#228: Murder in Black and White (1931) by Evelyn Elder

Murder in Black and WhiteIdentity and location, as I’ve said before, are really the two hooks on which a staggering majority of the detective genre hangs.  And if you want to get the most out of the impossible shooting tale Murder in Black and White by Evelyn Elder — pseudonym of Detective Club alumnus Milward Kennedy — you’re going to need patience in figuring out the latter.  Because while he has a good sense of character and action, as soon as anyone is required to go anywhere, or it becomes necessary to understand the internal layout of the ancient French citadel-cum-château that features so prominently, it’s as if his narrative powers desert him and he’s writing with a stick of celery.

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#227: In Defence of Rules – A Possibly Pointless Paean


A variety of events in my actual, I’m-a-real-person life — the culmination of which was a discussion about the perceived inferiority of genre fiction because of its hidebound nature — has got me reflecting on the deployment of rules, conventions, tropes, expectations, and other norms in detective fiction, and I thought I’d share it here in case anyone was interested (I mean, that’s all I’ve done so far with this blog, and it seems to be going well…).

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#226: Spoiler Warning 2 – Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie vs. He Who Whispers (1946) by John Dickson Carr


In the second of my semi-occasional series where caution is thrown to the wind when it comes to naming names, we are here today to discuss the two finest detective novelists of all time at their popular peak.  Christie aficionado, good friend, and best teacher ever Brad of AhSweetMysteryBlog kindly agreed to go head-to-head over our favourite authors and then exchange some thoughts on aspects of the precise details and workings of the books, and the results of our efforts are below.  Suffice to say, if you click to read more of this, there are guaranteed massive spoilers from this point on; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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#225: Rain Dogs (2015) by Adrian McKinty

Rain DogsHere’s a poser for you: a woman’s body found in a castle, but the castle was searched before it was locked up for the night and she wasn’t there, and she could not have gotten in afterwards thanks to a combination of the partially-surrounding sea, a two-ton portcullis, and CCTV coverage.  If it’s suicide, how did she get in?  And if it’s murder, how did the murderer get in and out?  No secret passages, no hidden rooms…howdunnit?  After some misgivings about Adrian McKinty, I’m proving myself an actual adult by giving this impossible crime of his, set in 1987’s Northern Ireland amidst the sectarian upheaval most commonly referred to as ‘The Troubles’, a go.  So, how did we do?

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