#302: The Long Divorce (1951) by Edmund Crispin

414wtbfdnol-sx316-sy1Never let it be said that I’m a stubborn man.  Well, okay, no, not that so much, but only a short while ago I was owning up to the shame that I’d probably never read this book and yet here I am — following reassurances from no less authorities than Nick Fuller and TomCat — reviewing, and so presumably having read, it.  Here’s the heart-in-my-hands moment: Crispin wrote 4½ great books, then a terrible one, then this one, then another terrible one, and this was the only one I’d not read.  But it’s bracketed by two books so awful that I’d wipe them out of existence, so my fears were, I feel, well-founded.  And you want to know what I thought, right?  Were my reservations borne out?  Who was right?  Ohmygod the tension…well, let’s get into it.

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#295: Fell/Murder – Ranking the First Ten Gideon Fell Novels (1933-39) by John Dickson Carr

Fell Ten

Having recently read The Arabian Nights Murder (1936) by John Dickson Carr, the time seems ripe to rank the first ten of Carr’s novels featuring the gargantuan Dr. Gideon Fell.  Why the first 10?  Well, we’re a decimal-obsessed society, and I’ve not read the eleventh, so this seems a natural jumping-off point.  It’s not technically a top ten, right?  It’s a little more interesting than that…right?

And so, in reverse order, I give you…

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#293: On Narrowness in Impossible Crimes, via ‘Locked In’ (1939) by E. Charles Vivian

Miraculous Mysteries

I recently read, with no large amount of pleasure, Evidence in Blue (1938) by E. Charles Vivian.  However, I’m not a man to write someone off after one bad book.  So the presence of a locked room story by Vivian in the Martin Edwards-edited collection of such impossibilities Miraculous Mysteries (2017) from the British Library Crime Classics series was a chance to give him another go.

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#280: The Man Who Wasn’t There – An Unseen Side to Sexton Blake in Model for Murder (1952) by Derek Howe Smith

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A year before the publication of locked room masterpiece Whistle Up the Devil (1953), and possibly just to get his eye in for the writing of a detective story, Derek Smith wrote a story featuring the popular pulp character Sexton Blake.  It was never published, and only came to public awareness when John Pugmire compiled the Derek Smith Omnibus in 2014 which comprised Smith’s two novels, the Blake novella Model for Murder, and a short story entitled ‘The Imperfect Crime’.

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#277: The Temple of the Great Jupiter – The Three Investigators March in The Secret of Terror Castle (1964) by Robert Arthur

secret_of_terror_castle

My inability to walk past a secondhand bookshop without at least having a “quick glance inside” recently resulted in me purchasing a stack of the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators titles, books I was aware of but have not previously read.  So buying 22 of them in no way counts as a spontaneous over-commitment, oh no.  Anyway, The Secret of Terror Castle is the first of the series and here are some thoughts on it.

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#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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