#208: The Iron Chariot (1909) by Stein Riverton is Now Republished by Abandoned Bookshop!

the-iron-chariot

In a post from a little while ago about authors unexpectedly having recycled ideas in their novels from other sources, mention was made of the Norwegian writer Sven Elvestad’s novel Jernvognen (1909), published under the pseudonym Stein Riverton, the solution of which was…heavily borrowed for a famous novel of detection in the 1920s (and, in fact, another in the 1960s…hint hint…though no-one thought to mention that).  The novel in question is rather explicitly mentioned in the comments, so, y’know, beware spoilers.

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#207: Five GAD Collaborations That Would Have Been Awesome

collaboration

I’ve read a lot of comics in my time, I spend many hours online enthusiastically contributing to discussions about a moderately obscure area of popular culture — hell, I even wear glasses.  I must, therefore, be a nerd.  I mean, sure, I don’t own a single t-shirt emblazoned with some hilarious-but-obscure quote or image, but that’s mainly because the kinds of things I’d put on a t-shirt — “Hairy Aaron!” or, say, a decal of Gideon Fell above the legend Don’t irritate a man who knows 142 ways to kill you without being the same room — no-one else wants on a t-shirt and so they’re not available to buy.

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#206: Death of Anton (1936) by Alan Melville

death-of-antonIf you’ve never read a classic-era novel of crime and detection, what are you waiting for?  There’s that Agatha Christine lady who wrote those David Suchet books, and the British Library has been putting out affordable classics for a little while now — go ahead and dig in.  Sure, some of them are better than others, but if you want a good introduction to this type of thing then Alan Melville’s circus-set Death of Anton might just be the perfect place to start: it’s very witty, written with the lightest of touches, and wastes no time in maundering on in a wannabe hard-boiled fashion while dealing with the seeming imprecations of a circus where death keeps raising its head…

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#205: Is it Necessary to Like an Author in Order to Enjoy Their Work?

splash-heartI don’t read many living authors — not intentionally, it’s just that the current trend of a lot of fiction doesn’t intersect with my tastes very often — and so I’m saved the concern of how they comport themselves on a daily basis and how this impacts my feelings about them.  But following a comment by Dan at The Reader is Warned about a comment made by John Dickson Carr in She Died a Lady (1943), I got to thinking about the above question.

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#204: “I’m afraid, you know, one does enjoy a bit of malice now and then…” – Yearning for the Golden Age in Agatha Christie’s By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968)

And so I enter the final decalogue of Agatha Christie’s works — from here to Miss Marple’s Final Cases (1979) — with a return visit to Thomas ‘Tommy’ Beresford and his wife Prudence, known (for reasons I genuinely cannot recall; someone will doubtless enlighten me in the comments) as Tuppence.  The Beresfords are unique in Christie canon in that they are the only repeating characters who seem to age in real time, and in doing so they provide an overview of Dame Agatha’s writing career in just a handful of books.

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#203: Oil Under the Window (1936) by Norman Berrow

oil-under-the-windowNorman Berrow writes great policemen.  His other characters are very good — he has Agatha Christie’s ability to give you an archetype plus enough to be quietly, subtly powerful — but his policemen are superb.  After reading three later Berrows featuring Inspector Lancelot Carolus Smith and his lackeys, I’m leaping back to Berrow’s second novel here, and well before the halfway point I was lamenting the fact that this seems to be the only case calling on Superintendent Mellish, Inspector Sennet, and the delightfully earnest Constable Ensor.  They take a standard Country House Mystery and transform it through their cheek, cleverness, and camaraderie into something that feels like the start of a very promising career indeed.  Alas, not to be.

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#201: For Carr vs. Christie – Start Your Engines…

carr-vs-christie

Okay, the results of the vote for your collective choice of the best individual novel by John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie are in, and it’s now fixed which two need to be read for the head-to-head comparison that Brad and I have planned for April.  So, after over 100 votes in each poll (though not a multiple of three in either case, despite having three votes per author…) counting down the top five, we have…

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#200: Celebrating 100 Impossible Crimes with Paul Halter’s The Vampire Tree (1996) [trans. John Pugmire 2016]

vampire-tree-100

This, my 200th post on this blog, will also be the 100th to be tagged with the subject ‘Impossible Crimes‘ and — since my very first was a review of Paul Halter’s The Phantom Passage — I thought I’d hold this milestone to look at the most recent Halter translation from John Pugmire’s Locked Room International, which goes by the English title The Vampire Tree.  I will probably do this at some length, though without mentioning specifics past the 25% mark, and with a brief mention of only one slight spoiler, signposted in advance.  So, let’s get into it…

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#199: A Quantum Murder (1994) by Peter F. Hamilton

a-quantum-murderRespected, iconoclastic patriarch of an isolated group found murdered in his bedroom one night when no-one else could have entered the house?  Check.  All members of the household cleared from complicity in his murder?  Check.  Amateur detective-cum-paladin called in against his will to investigate?  Check.  Cantankerous police riled by this effrontery in spite of the obvious specialised knowledge this amateur brings?  Check.  Honestly, Peter F. Hamilton wrote such a classic detective yarn with A Quantum Murder, it’s almost a surprise to find it on the SF shelves.  But when your genius amateur is also a fully-functioning enhanced psychic empath I suppose you’re not really in Agatha Christie territory any more…

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