The Moving Toyshop (1946) – Edmund Crispin

Poet Richard Cadogan is having a bit of a mid-life crisis, and decides that the best remedy is a trip to Oxford, where he studied at University. He gets the adventure he seeks and more after finding a dead body in an abandoned toyshop and being knocked out. On waking up to find the body missing, he then manages to lose the toyshop as well. Luckily, he knows who to turn to in a bizzare criminal situation: Gervase Fen, the eccentric Oxford don whose…

4 Comments

Goodnight Irene (2018) – James Scott Byrnside

It's 1927, and Chicago private detective Rowan Manory is struggling both financially and emotionally after a routine case goes horribly wrong. So when he recieves a request from former Chicago gangster and bootlegger Robert Lasciva, the offer is too good to pass up… plus Manory has some more personal reasons for taking the case. But when Manory and his assistant Walter Williams travel to the moonshiner's Mississipi mansion, they find it atop an isolated ridge as a near-biblical flood rages around it. The guests…

0 Comments

Suddenly at His Residence (1946) – Christianna Brand

Sir Richard March "invites" his grandchildren back to his mansion Swanswater, where he lives with his second wife, Bella. At this time every year the family must gather to perform a memorial ritual on the anniversary of his first wife Serafita's death. But this year, with bombs falling in London and Kent, and an affair in the offing between cousins, Sir Richard retreats to the lodge house for the night threatening to cut his grandchildren out of the will. The next morning, he is…

4 Comments

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…

5 Comments

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…

0 Comments

The Honjin Murders – Seishi Yokomizo (1947 trans. 2019 Louise Heal Kawai)

The wedding between Kenzo, the eldest son of the proud Ichiyanagi family, and Katsuko, the daughter of a fruit farmer made good, goes ahead despite the objections of Kenzo's family. But the silence of a snow-filled night is broken by screams, and the wild strumming of a koto. When the relatives investigate the annex where the newlyweds are staying, they find it locked. Outside, in the snow, lies a katana but no footprints. Inside lie the bodies of the couple, "soaked in the crimson…

3 Comments

John Dickson Carr: A Critical Study (1990) – S. T. Joshi

Books are wonderful - so what could be better than a book? A book about books, of course!After I saw John Dickson Carr: A Critical Study book mentioned both in Douglas Greene's biography of Carr and on Tangled Yarns, I felt I had to check it out.Douglas Greene described it as "filled with insights about Carr's writing and attitudes", and I have to say, it met my expectations! There are some great insights here, and it's extremely quotable. Only on one occasion did I…

8 Comments

Untimely Death (1958) – Cyril Hare

In last week's The Turquoise Shop, the first body had been found shortly before the book begins. In Untimely Death (first published as He Should Have Died Hereafter), you could say the first corpse turned up decades before. The first half of the book takes place entirely in the Exmoor area, where the Francis and Eleanor Pettigrew have decided to stay for their holiday. For Francis, the location holds many vivid memories of time spent there in childhood. We are allowed time to get…

0 Comments

The Beginning of Bencolin – John Dickson Carr’s short stories in The Haverfordian

After finishing The Lost Gallows I wanted to go back to the short stories that featured Henri Bencolin and Sir John Landervorne. I've also been pretty busy, so I thought a review of the four stories would be a nice quick way to get back into posting. Things did not work out that way… These stories were among Carr's first detective stories, and they were published in Carr's college magazine The Haverfordian between 1926 and 1928, when Carr was in his early twenties. By…

0 Comments

The Lost Gallows (1931) – John Dickson Carr

A limousine joyrides through the fogbound streets of London with a corpse at the wheel. The shadow of a gallows is seen on an unknown street. Nezam al Moulk receives threatening packages delivered directly to his room even though no one could have entered.Ten years ago a duel was fought in Paris - and now the mysterious hangman Jack Ketch wants revenge. Will he drag his victims to Ruination Street, or can Henri Bencolin stop him before it's too late? Henri Bencolin and Jeff…

5 Comments

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…

6 Comments

It Walks By Night (1930) – John Dickson Carr

John Dickson Carr is a pretty special author to me. He was the first Classic Crime author I really got into after the obvious Agatha Christie, and discovering the joys of a good Carr or Carter Dickson is what made me want to explore more to see what else was out there. I've already read a lot of his books, but I want to share my enjoyment of them by re-reading them and writing reviews. I've decided to start at the beginning for now,…

6 Comments