#269: The Road Not Taken – Thoughts on Minor Instances in the Thackeray Phin Short Stories of John Sladek

maps

Thanks to the beneficence of Dan at The Reader is Warned, I have been loaned a copy of Maps (2002), an anthology of short fiction and other reflections by John Sladek which were previously not anthologised elsewhere.  Sladek wrote two impossible crime novels — the excellent Black Aura (1974) and the exemplary Invisible Green (1977) — and Maps contains the two short-form tales to feature the same American dandy sleuth, Thackeray Phin.  Both could be discussed at length, but TomCat’s already done that very well indeed and I’m more interested in looking at small moments within them that don’t actually contribute to the plot.  I know, right, what am I like?

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#266: ‘The Problem of the Emperor’s Mushrooms’ (1945) by James Yaffe – Five and a Half Alternative Solutions

I recently acquired one of the only 175 extant editions produced by Crippen and Landru of the short story ‘The Problem of the Emperor’s Mushrooms’ by James Yaffe, itself originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1945.  And in the same manner of reflection upon Paul Halter’s ‘The Yellow Book’ (2017) from a few weeks ago, I thought I’d have another look at a short story…though this time to suggest possible alternative explanations for the impossible poisoning contained therein.

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#261: Judging a Book – Rejected Cover Art for Murder on the Way! (1935) and I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe

Roscoe Covers

As you may be aware, it was recently my most honoured pleasure to be involved with Bold Venture Press in the editing and republication of two novels by Theodore Roscoe.  It’s not something I had any experience of before — and, to be fair, Rich and Audrey were so good about so many aspects that I don’t really have any transferable experience now — but I thought I’d offer a glimpse behind the curtain today and share with you some suggested covers for both books that we didn’t end up using.

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#259: ‘The Yellow Book’ (2017) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2017] and Categorising No Footprints Murders…

Of late, I have found myself surrounded by invisible men.  Entirely fictional, of course, but there have been a lot of them: shooting someone in an empty room in You’ll Die Laughing (1945) by Bruce Elliott, disappearing into darkness in I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe, vanishing from rooms and beaches in Thursday’s forthcoming Wilders Walk Away by Herbert Brean, performing miracle appearances and disappearances as I reread Rim of the Pit (1944) by Hake Talbot…everywhere I look, people are vanishing.

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#255: Abridged Too Far? Comparing Texts of The Unicorn Murders (1935) by Carter Dickson

Unicorn Murders

Among my at-times multiple versions of various John Dickson Carr titles, I  have four Mercury Mystery editions like the one shown on the left above — The Plague Court Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), and The Department of Queer Complaints (1940) — which are of additional interest to me since the novels are all abridgements.  So, having just read the unedited text of The Unicorn Murders, I thought it might be interesting to see what was excised from this abridged version.

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#252: Your Favourite Bad Solutions…

Bunny facepalm

In the comments of my post on reality and Golden Age Detective fiction from last Saturday, Harry shared his frustration with the solution to Murder on the Marsh (1930) by John Ferguson — it’s very spoilerific, be warned (though it also sounds terrible, so…) — and I in turn recounted a couple of awful solutions to locked room short stories in sympathy.  Because, let’s face it, we’ve all read some stinkers in our time, haven’t we?

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#250: The Verdict of Us All 5: A Book You Love by An Author You Don’t…

Verdict of Us All

Last year, Kate at CrossExaminingCrime had the grand idea of putting the same question to several GAD bloggers and collecting their responses into one post under the title The Verdict of Us All.  This became a semi-occasional thing that a few different blogs hosted and, given a recent reading experience, I thought I’d mark my quarter-millennial by resurrecting it here to ask the following: Is there an author whose work you generally can’t stand but who has nevertheless written one book you absolutely love?

It turns out the answer is “yes” for some other people, too…

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#249: Is This the Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy? — GAD and ‘Reality’

GAD Fantasy

A number of different factors — among them Brad’s recent discourse on the dying message, my reading of Tour de Force (1955) by Christianna Brand, and Noah’s previous post on intertextuality in detective fiction — have brought me to the point where I want to ask the question “What is reality in relation to Golden Age Detective (GAD) fiction?”.  Yes, yes, I am a very nerdy man.  You should have guessed this by now.

So, let’s get into it…

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