Miss Pym Disposes (1946) – Josephine Tey

The unexpected success of her pop-psychology book has made former French teacher Lucy Pym London's latest literary celebrity. When she receives a lecture invitation from her old friend Henrietta - now headmistress of Leys Physical Training College - Miss Pym eagerly accepts. She expects to stay for just a single night - but after the students win her over, she extends her stay - for just a few days… then a few weeks.At first, life in the college seems idyllic (especially for Lucy Pym,…

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Christie For Christmas! The Thirteen Problems

It's Christmas! Well, it was Christmas. Reviews are like Christmas cards - better late than never. I hope that all of you have a great New Year.I thought it was high time to cover an Agatha Christie on this blog - and given I love short stories, this was the first thing I turned to. I should mention that, between Poirot and Miss Marple, my favourite is the spinster sleuth of St. Mary Mead. These thirteen stories mark the debut of Miss Marple, before…

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Fear For Miss Betony – Dorothy Bowers (1941)

Former governess Emma Betony is interrupted in her attempt to join a retirement community for gentlewomen by a letter from one of her former charges, Grace Aram. Miss Betony used to regale Grace with exotic tales of her aunt, Mary Shagreen, which provided a bright spot in her childhood. Grace now runs a small school which has been evacuated to a former nursing home in the countryside - though two of the patients still live on the site. Grace begs Miss Betony for help;…

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Mr. Splitfoot – Helen McCloy (1968)

Fifteen year old Lucinda's parents Francis and Folly are hosting a dinner party at their mansion high in the Catskill Mountains; the invited guests are Francis' literary agent David Crowe and his wife Serena, and the head of the publishing house Bradford Alcott and his wife Ginevra. Resentful of the adults - particularly her stepmother Folly - Lucinda plots with her friend Vanya to scare them with a supernatural manifestation of "Mr Splitfoot". But things don't quite go to plan. First, Dr. Basil Willing…

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The Postscript Murders (2020) – Elly Griffiths

As a Golden Age of Detection fanatic, me reviewing a modern crime novel is a bit like a velociraptor reviewing an iPhone. But Elly Griffiths' The Postscript Murders has a stronger than usual connection to the Golden Age.The story starts with the death of Peggy Smith, ninety-year-old resident of the Seaview Apartments in Shoreham on Sea. Her carer, Natalka, thinks she was murdered, and through force of personality manages to convince DS Harbinder Kaur, Peggy's neighbour Edwin, and the owner of a local cafe,…

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The Short Career of Montague Egg (1933-1939) – Dorothy L. Sayers

In addition to Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers also had a much less well-known regular detective. Unlike Lord Peter, Montague Egg is a working man; a "commercial traveller" for Messrs. Plummet and Rose, Wine Merchants. Though still mingling with the well-off due to his job, Egg exists in a very different mileu to Wimsey. Less butlers, spying, and dressing up as a wizard, and more suspicious travellers, awful pub dinners, and money-saving train dodges. The down-to-earth nature of the stories leads to them…

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The Red Locked Room – Tetsuya Ayukawa (2020, trans. Ho-Ling Wong)

Tesuya Ayukawa was, as the introduction to this collection says, the foremost proponent in his time of the honkaku, or "orthodox" mystery story. These puzzle-centric mysteries were the inspiration for the later stories by Yukito Ayastuji and Taku Ashibe (who wrote the introduction). In fact Ayukawa lived to see the shin honkaku ("new orthodox") movement begin, and also helped many younger writers make their start. This selection of short stories - his best ones, apparently - features two very different detectives. First is the…

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Lord Peter Views the Body (1928) – Dorothy L. Sayers

This first collection of Dorothy L. Sayers' short stories was published in 1928, after a few Lord Peter Wimsey novels had already been published. The stories range from tales of detection, through tales of puzzle-solving, and into tales of adventure. Aside from all sharing the trait of ridiculously long titles, quite a few of them are what I'll call "hobby-themed"; they turn on a particular interest. Generally this is a high-culture or high-class interest. Lord Peter resolves the plot through his specialist knowledge of…

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Trent Intervenes (1938) – E. C. Bentley

After Trent's Last Case, E.C. Bentley might have been expected to kick off a series in order to capitalize on its success. But in fact he doesn't seem to have been that interested; the follow-up came several decades later and was a collaboration with another writer. While he wrote short stories featuring the character, they are few and far between. Most of them were collected in the 1938 collection Trent Intervenes, with one extra that would be added to later editions. Three stories, The…

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Trent’s Last Case (1913) – E. C. Bentley

Published in 1913, Edmund Clerihew Bentley's first detective novel, Trent's Last Case, is sometimes cited as an early beginning for the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, the inter-war (with change) period when clues, twists, and the intellectual challenge were at the height of their popularity in crime fiction. So what better book to kick off the blog? The titular Last Case concerns the shooting of Sigsbee Manderson, the Napoleon of Finance. His body is found just next to his shed, with a bullet wound…

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