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…

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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…

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Death at the Bar (1940) – Ngaio Marsh

Ngaio Marsh has long been considered one of the "Queens of Crime", a leading author in the fair-play detective tradition of the inter-war years. You just have to look at the laudatory comments covering my reprint edition to see her reputation - "She writes better than Christie", "Among the Queens of Crime she stands out as an Empress", and so on. Reactions I've seen on classic crime fiction blogs have been… less positive. However, this is my first time reading a Marsh book, so…

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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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Blog Update and Bodies From The Library

If anyone has been paying attention (unlikely), they will have noticed the blog schedule claims I will post "every Sunday", and that not only have the posts been going up on Mondays, they've also been going up only every other week. In short, I decided to start this blog at almost the exact same time as a bunch of life events happened, cutting into my free time. The good news is that one of those events should eventually result in me having space for…

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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,…

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The Thin Man (1934 movie)

Shortly after the release of Dashiell Hammet's 1934 novel The Thin Man, a movie was produced based on the novel. It was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and the screenplay was written by married couple Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, who were instructed to focus on the witty exchanges between Nick and Nora Charles. The film is just barely from the pre- Hays Code era. I don't know if that code had any instruction about drinking, because the movie characters do a great…

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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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The Thin Man (1934) – Dashiell Hammett

Ex- private detective Nick Charles returns to New York with his wife Nora (and dog Asta) for what he thinks will be a brief Christmas holiday, and a chance to catch up with old friends. When he bumps into Dorothy Wynant, daughter of Nick's old client Clyde Wynant, she asks him to track down her father, the titular Thin Man. Nick does his best to avoid getting pulled back into detecting. But the murder of Clyde Wynant's secretary Julia Wolf drags Nick further and…

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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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The City & The City (2009) – China Miéville

Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Bezsel Extreme Crimes Unit is assigned to investigate the case of an unknown woman whose body has been found discarded in a dilapidated urban area. Leads are few, until he gets an extra-legal tipoff, and begins to uncover a conspiracy that reaches wider than he thinks… This celebrated science-fiction novel is in fact also a detective novel, and a pretty good one too. The strange location and themes of the sci-fi intertwine with the position and investigative procedure of…

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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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Welcome to the blog!

Hello everyone, I'm Velleic, an avid reader of crime fiction, particularly of the Classic, clue-based sort. Over the past few years I've built up a backlog of thoughts and even full reviews of some of the books I've read, and I've decided it's high time to post them. I'm starting with one book from the pre-Golden Age of Mystery and one book from a decade and a half ago, but expect things from the 1930s/1940s soon. Posting schedule-wise, I'm going to try and post…

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