#307: The Realm of the Impossible [ss] (2017) eds. John Pugmire and Brian Skupin – Week 5

Realm of the Impossible

Here we are at the final week of Locked Room International’s The Realm of the Impossible, with me working through in non-anthologised order to instead group them culture-by-culture.

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#306: The Realm of the Impossible [ss] (2017) eds. John Pugmire and Brian Skupin – The Real Life Impossibilities

Realm of the Impossible

This coming Tuesday sees the final instalment in my month-long look at Locked Room International’s multi-national impossible crime short story collection, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to address an oversight Puzzle Doctor, TomCat, and I have all been guilty of: the 12 real-life cases also contained within.

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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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#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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#264: Death in the Dark (1930) by Stacey Bishop

Death in the Dark“There is no suspense in a bang,” said Alfred Hitchcock, “only in the anticipation of it.” This applies to Stacey Bishop’s sole detective novel because, well, it wasn’t a book a sizeable proportion of GAD readers were aware even existed until Locked Room International conjured this reprint fittingly out of the ether — when John Norris at Pretty Sinister hasn’t read it, you know it’s rare.  As such, the gleeful anticipation of its release was undercut somewhat by the fact that we hadn’t even heard of it, and so there’s no weight of expectation: we are free, in this connected age of everything being on demand and everything being remembered, to come into this entirely without preconceptions.

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#242: The Ginza Ghost [ss] (1932-47) by Keikichi Ōsaka [trans. Ho-Ling Wong 2017]

Disclosure: I proof-read this book for Locked Room International in March/April 2017.

The Ginza GhostAfter two wonderful shin honkaku novels in The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji and The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa, John Pugmire’s Locked Room International now brings you this honkaku story collection from early pioneer Keikichi Ōsaka.  The introduction by Ashibe Taku, author of Murder in the Red Chamber (2004), does a great job of putting Ōsaka in context, since this was a nascent form of mystery writing that allows a fascinating and at times hugely inventive take on a genre we thought we’d seen everything in already — no mean feat when some of the best here are over 80 years old.  And some of these solutions have to be read to be believed… (in a good way, that is).

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