“Mr. Ellery Queen, watching the world rush by in a glaring Long Island sunlight, mused that life was like a Spanish wench: full of surprises, none of them delicate and all of them stimulating. Since he was a monastic who led a riotous mental existence, he liked life that way; and since he was also a detective—an appellation he cordially detested—he got life that way.”
An excellent short-story collection highlighting some of Ellery Queen’s most unusual cases. These stories are all from Queen’s first period, with a strong emphasis on detection and elaborate solutions. The shorter length plays to the authors’ strengths, allowing for airtight plotting against a striking backdrop, without time for the doldrums that sometimes afflict their full-length novels during this period. Continue reading “The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1934) by Ellery Queen”
“Are you happy? If not, consult Mr. Parker Pyne.”
This eye-catching advertisement brings countless troubles, both large and small, to Parker Pyne’s doorstep. The retired statistician claims to have a scientific solution to any kind of unhappiness. The cases collected in this volume certainly run the gamut, from simple boredom all the way to murder. The first six stories are more lightweight and do not typically involve crime, though it is interesting over the course of the stories to learn more about Pyne’s methods and his unorthodox office procedures. The rest are more unified, following Pyne as he journeys throughout Europe and the Middle East, encountering serious crimes as he goes. These last six stories are uniformly high in quality and double as a fascinating vintage travelogue. Continue reading “Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie (1934)”
“I am afraid this is a serious case. What has been done has been so thoroughly well accomplished that I believe we have no fool to deal with. His is a master hand.”
Final Proof is a group of linked novellas and short stories that seem to show the fair-play mystery developing before the reader’s eyes. These tales pit two detectives against one another in friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) rivalry. John Barnes is a professional private detective, while his friend Robert Leroy Mitchel is a gifted amateur with Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction. Mr. Mitchel will stop at absolutely nothing in pursuit of a case, and even tries to prevent crimes before they happen, often leaving Mr. Barnes gently bewildered in his wake. Continue reading “Final Proof (1898) by Rodrigues Ottolengui”
“So this was murder. This was murder, and it happened to people one knew, and it did indescribable and horrible things to them. Frightened them first, perhaps. Fear of murder itself came first—simple, primitive fear of the unleashing of the beast. And then on its heels came more civilized fear, and that was fear of the law, and a scramble for safety.”
The Cases of Susan Dare collects the adventures of a young author who writes “murders…lovely, grisly ones with sensible solutions,” but doesn’t see why her fictional sleuths should have all the fun. Aside from her series detective, Nurse Sarah Keate, Mignon G. Eberhart’s work usually focuses more on romantic suspense than crime-solving, so it’s a nice change of pace to see both elements combined in these stories. Continue reading “The Cases of Susan Dare by Mignon G Eberhart (1934)”
“It is like the mirror smashed on the wall. The dead man’s mirror. Every new fact we come across shows us some different angle of the dead man. He is reflected from every conceivable point of view. We shall have soon a complete picture. . . .”
Murder in the Mews contains three excellent short works by Agatha Christie (including one of her very best stories, Triangle at Rhodes) and a middling one, The Incredible Theft. Continue reading “Murder in the Mews by Agatha Christie (1937)”
There was a little story. I knew there had to be.
Charlotte Armstrong’s most distinctive quality as an author is her clear-eyed but unshakable faith in humanity—certainly a rare perspective in crime fiction. Though she was capable of terrible darkness, the quintessential Armstrong plot involves the prevention of wrongdoing rather than its investigation and ends with the characters learning that they can be better people with just a little effort.
Continue reading “I See You (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong”