Friday, November 22, 2013

Four Classics from CLASSIC MYSTERIES

Les Blatt reviews Gladys Mitchell's THE RISING OF THE MOON (1945), featuring "the always eccentric and occasionally horrifying Mrs. Bradley":
[Mitchell's] books are often favorably compared to Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham. She was never as popular in the United States as in Britain. I found 'The Rising of the Moon' to be one of her most accessible to an American audience.
From the GAD Wiki:
One of the most over-rated mysteries (for it cannot be called a "detective story" proper) of the previous century. Despite the pervasive first-class atmosphere, the plot is very weak, the ending so opaque as to be totally confusing . . . [In general] her books are comic, surreal and full of vitality and energy, and more interested in people's eccentricities and foibles and the small joys of life (history, travel, food, literature, architecture, mythology, landscape) than in unbreakable alibis. One always remembers the setting and people more than the plots. — Nick Fuller
If this novel is typical of Mitchell, then she is one of those bad writers who is nonetheless an original. Like, for instance, Harry Stephen Keeler, she appears to know exactly what she wants to do, and will not be deterred by any considerations of realism or even common sense. — John
Les also has a discussion of John Sladek's INVISIBLE GREEN (1977):
. . . a well-plotted (and fairly convoluted) impossible crime mystery [in which] a freelance detective, Thackeray Phin, must try to solve what appears to be a motiveless string of impossible crimes. One death, for example, takes place in a locked room. Another took place in a house that was closely watched. Is the murderer, the elusive Mr. Green, really invisible?

Additionally, Les reviews R. Austin Freeman's THE MYSTERY AT NUMBER 31, NEW INN (1911):
It's a solid, well-constructed mystery, featuring Dr. Thorndyke, who became a favorite among mystery readers through much of the first half of the 20th century.
Also from the GAD Wiki:
'31 New Inn' shows Thorndyke at his most typical . . . The crime itself is particularly nasty, and all the more so in that it is presented without all the explicit gore and horror one would find in a modern author. As usual, there are some nicely quotable passages . . . As a pure detective story, the novel is rather weak (the author then being a novice) . . . — Wyatt James
And let's not forget Christianna Brand's GREEN FOR DANGER (1944):
. . . a well-written, fully developed novel with believable, sympathetic characters—and while we are soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying those characters, the author suddenly produces a series of plot twists and developments which will leave readers dazzled. And yet the deceit is scrupulously fair.
The Wiki again:
Inspector Cockrill is tasked to determine whodunit when the head nurse is killed after revealing that the death of a patient under anesthesia was no accident. Cockrill states at one point, "My presence lay over the hospital like a pall—I found it all tremendously enjoyable."

Category: Detective fiction

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