La Chambre du fou / The Madman’s Room (Paul Halter)

By Paul HalterFirst published: Le Masque, Paris, 1990.  English translation: The Madman's Room, Locked Room International, 2017, trans. John Pugmire. ★★★★★ This is guaranteed to send the detective fiction fan into paroxysms of delight.  It’s Halter’s take on the room that kills. There’s something terrifying and invisible in Hatton Manor that makes people die of fright, … Continue reading La Chambre du fou / The Madman’s Room (Paul Halter)

The Man Who Wasn’t There (Anthony Gilbert)

By Anthony Gilbert First published: UK, Collins, 1937 ★★★ My last Gilbert, I complained, was conventional.  Death at Four Corners (1929) showed a young author using the technique of one of the dominant writers of the day, and producing an average detective story - solid, well-constructed, rather dull - that lacked individuality. Half a dozen years later, Gilbert … Continue reading The Man Who Wasn’t There (Anthony Gilbert)

Death at Four Corners (Anthony Gilbert)

By Anthony Gilbert First published: UK, Collins, 1929 A corpse in clerical clothing is found on a platform overlooking the sea, near the estate of Sir Gervase Blount, nobleman and clergyman. The dead man has been shot through the head.  For good measure, he is clutching a button; has a livid blue mark round his … Continue reading Death at Four Corners (Anthony Gilbert)

The Case of the Tea-Cosy’s Aunt (Anthony Gilbert)

By Anthony GilbertFirst published: UK: Collins, 1942; US: Smith & Durrell, 1943, as Death in the Blackout ★★★ The last detective story I read before this was William Gore's Murder Most Artistic, published in 1937, and not reprinted until the boom of eBooks made rarities possible.  It was easy to see why that one was … Continue reading The Case of the Tea-Cosy’s Aunt (Anthony Gilbert)

The Case of the Unfortunate Village (Christopher Bush)

By Christopher Bush First published: UK, Cassell, 1933 ★★★★ I first read this in 2004.  Back then, TCOT Unfortunate Village was one of Bush's rarest.  It had never been published in the US, and not a single copy of the English edition was for sale on ABE.  (There still isn't.)  I ordered it on inter-library … Continue reading The Case of the Unfortunate Village (Christopher Bush)

Proceed with Caution (John Rhode)

By John RhodeFirst published: UK: Collins, 1937; US: Dodd Mead, 1937, as Body Unidentified ★★★★ This is almost the quintessence of the Crofts school: a hugely elaborate plot, involving the breakdown of identity, the disposal of the corpse, alibis, and transport.  Some might find it laborious; you’ve got to keep track of a lot of … Continue reading Proceed with Caution (John Rhode)

Freeman Wills Crofts

This was first published in my Master's thesis on the detective story, University of Sydney, 2011/12.  The reader should check out: Mike Grost's article on Crofts Curtis Evans' Masters of the “Humdrum Mystery”: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961 (2012). REVISED: I have incorporated the … Continue reading Freeman Wills Crofts