Continuing the grand old tradition of crime-solving clergy — I refer, of course, to The Father Dowling Mysteries — Hal White’s collection of impossible crime stories featuring the retired octogenarian Reverend Thaddeus Dean gives us six takes on vanishing murderers, no footprints in the snow, impossible alibis, and more classic staples of my most-beloved of sub-genres. And, no small praise, it bears the stamp of approval from Bob Adey…so, are the stories any good? Well, as part of my continued trek to find something in the realms of self-published detective fiction that’s actually worth your time, let’s have a look…
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.
“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).