#275: A Little Help for My Friends – Finding a Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat Attempt #3: The Secrets of Gaslight Lane (2016) by M.R.C. Kasasian

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A late-Victorian private detective living in London who exhibits such traits as brilliant deductive skills (highlighted especially in his observations about strangers), a brusque and pompous manner, the application of reason and logic in all his encounters with crime, and a singular lack of personal relationships with anyone beyond his household, the members of the police he encounters, and his chronicler.  Sound familiar?

And, of course, he has that glass eye, too.  Wait, what?

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#274: Spoiler Warning – Coming in October: And Be a Villain (1948) by Rex Stout

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You’ve just had time to recover from the spoiler-filled look at Rim of the Pit (1944) by Hake Talbot…well here’s fair warning of the subject of the next spoiler-filled discussion that will be going ahead here on The invisible Event this October: And be a Villain (1948), the 13th book by Rex Stout to feature fiction’s most famous orchid fancier, Nero Wolfe.

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#270: The Madman’s Room (1990) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2017]

Madman's RoomReader, brace yourself for a shock: I — the man who curated an online celebration of Paul Halter’s 60th birthday last yearloved The Madman’s Room.  Given the hue and stripe of originality Halter has brought to the impossible crime genre (The Demon of Dartmoor, The Lord of Misrule, and The Invisible Circle, among others, all contain what surely must be original resolutions to the inexplicable), it’s no surprise to find him resolving the mysteries herein as inventively as he does.  What I especially enjoyed was the simplicity brought to the answers, particularly the way he occludes that simplicity so smartly so that you look back on come the end and go “Oh, hell, how did I miss that?”.

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#254: The Unicorn Murders (1935) by Carter Dickson

unicornmurdersWhen a man is found dead, stabbed between the eyes by a unicorn (of indeterminate nationality) — a, yes, fictional animal that can nevertheless apparently turn invisible at will — you don’t expect to find yourself in the GADU.  And when a second victim is then killed in the same way but in full view of witnesses, if one can witness an invisible animal, you better hope you’re in the GADU or else things are about to get silly.  Well, it’s your lucky day, because you are in a classic impossible crime mystery and things are about to get silly — this book is probably the final time John Dickson Carr had all the ingredients for a classic and didn’t actually write it, instead leaving a few edges untouched so that the overriding impression is slightly more “Er…what?” than “Hell, yeah!”.

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

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

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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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#217: Depth, Discovery, and the Detective Novel, via Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie

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Worry not, I have no intention here of spoiling anything about Death on the Nile ahead of spoiling everything about it next month, but I’ve just reread it in preparation for that and some thoughts came out of it that I’d like to get down here for posterity.  Also, having tackled Australian and American authors for the 1937 Crimes of the Century, it struck me that I should probably go for the English-speaking trifecta and take on the most English of English Detective Novelists, too, for completeness if nothing else.

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#189: The Tuesday Night Bloggers – Back to the Beginning with Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

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The first month of 2017 sees The Tuesday Night Bloggers — again, it’s not a closed group, you’re welcome to pitch in whenever you like — reflecting on firsts, debuts, starting points, and anything else that lends itself to the beginning of something (provided it’s detective fiction-related, of course).  So I thought I’d get all dewy-eyed over not just my first Christie but also my first classic detective novel ever, the entry-level drug that started me on this path to blogging, obsessing over obscure classics, and spending every spare moment in second-hand bookshops.

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#171: JDC OOP – WTF?

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In his lifetime, John Dickson Carr published 76 novels and short story collections, plus a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle and a ‘true crime’ novel predating Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, The Murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey.  Following the closure of the Rue Morgue Press, who had five Carr novels in their books, and the coming disappearance of Orion’s ebook undertaking The Murder Room, who have around 14 or so Carr novels in their ranks, we’re not too far from a point in time where only two Car novels will be available to buy: Orion’s perpetually in-print version of The Hollow Man and the Mysterious Press publication of The Devil in Velvet.  So, to return to the question in the title of this post: John Dickson Carr’s out of print — where’s the fuss?

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#162: The Tuesday Night Bloggers – Meta-Fictional Historical Deconstruction in Magpie Murders (2016) by Anthony Horowitz

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Anthony Horowitz is probably my favourite contemporary author of detective fiction, as his superb Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk (2011) and its genuinely exceptional follow-up Moriarty (2013) displayed an affinity for both the milieu of Holmes and the necessary misdirection and construction of a blistering plot that blindsides you at will which seems to elude many who try to walk this path these days.  His earlier novel The Killing Joke (2004) isn’t really detective fiction per se, but shows a playfulness with narrative that is aware of many of the tropes of genre fiction and is worth mentioning here precisely because of how much it foreshadowed the work he does in Magpie Murders when it comes to deconstructing the classical detective and his ilk.

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