#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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#278: Six Were Present – A Collaboration of Titans in ‘The Scoop’ (1931)

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Most fans of Golden Age detective fiction (GAD) will be aware of the portmanteau novel The Floating Admiral (1931) in which many luminaries of the form each contributed a chapter in turn to a murder mystery plot (pity poor Anthony Berkeley, who had to unravel all the clues and events to provide a coherent solution in the final chapter).  I’m imagining that slightly — but only slightly — fewer of you will be aware of the precursors to this novel written in the preceding year, where the same sort of approach was taken for two mysteries to be broadcast on radio.

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#131: Adventures in Self-Publishing – The Third Gunman (2016) by Raymond Knight Read

Third Gunman

So, how was my holiday reading?

Well, following the discovery of Matt Ingwalson’s Owl and Raccoon novellas I pledged to give more self-published works a go because — hey! — some of it is evidently very good indeed.  Sure, an overwhelming majority is awful, but it’s worth the relatively slight cost to potentially find something surprising.  Which brings us to The Third Gunman by Raymond Knight Read.

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#122: Broken Bottles and Bloodspots: A guest post by Matt Ingwalson

Owl and Raccon #1 and #2

Author photo: Chris Sessions

The Owl and Raccoon novellas of Matt Ingwalson update the impossible crime to a modern setting and, as I have said previously, are hugely recommended reading for anyone with an interest in a good story convincingly told.  Ahead of the publication of the third story, Not With a Bang, I asked Matt if he would be willing to oblige us with an insight into his writing and he very kindly offered the following.

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#118: Jack Glass (2012) by Adam Roberts

Jack Glass“The impulse for this novel,” says Adam Roberts “was a desire to collide together some of the conventions of ‘Golden Age’ science fiction and ‘Golden Age’ detective fiction, with the emphasis more on the latter than the former.”  Well, count me in!  Sure, the authors he then cites (Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Michael Innes) don’t all fill me with delight, but this is a collision of my two favourite genres plus impossible crimes — how could I pass it up?!  And it would have passed me by entirely had not blog-commenter ravenking81 brought it to my attention, so my most genuine thanks for that; at its best it’s a fascinatingly successful attempt at merging the two genres in a way that recalls both Isaac Asimov and John Dickson Carr, who, y’know, are the two finest authors to have worked in their respective genres.  So that’s a good thing.  By definition, however, it is not always at its best. Continue reading

#51: Two novellas – The Single Staircase (2012) and WDYG (2013) by Matt Ingwalson

Single Staircase WDYG

“Self-published” is, I’d wager, the phrase most likely to strike fear into the heart of even the most ardent book-lover.   After all, that’s how we had Fifty Shades of Grey inflicted upon us, and the rise of ebooks (a great thing as far as I’m concerned, as look at the number of classic crime titles now available via that medium) has given new scope to the possibilities for getting a book out to an audience without first taking a detour via editors, proof-readers, fact-checkers, or any of the countless bastions of velleity that could previously be taken as read upon picking up a book.

However, just as Patrick Ness has shown us that not everything labelled YA need be treated disdainfully, so self-publishing will produce the odd gem, and Matt Ingwalson’s duo of impossible crime novellas featuring detectives Owl and Raccoon definitely fall into this category.  And, as it’s Christmas and you’re likely to be busy people, I’m flashing them up now as a recommendation for a couple of quick reads to fit in between the chaotic scenes of this festive period (or, y’know, any other time that suits).

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