Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Case of the Falling (Pop) Star

By John Sladek (1937-2000).
Jonathan Cape/Walker.
Retro-detective Thackeray Phin investigates a levitation that didn't . . . levitate.

Mike at ONLY DETECT (November 26, 2010) reviews this fairly obscure latter-day impossible crime novel. Excerpt:
Like Carr, he [author Sladek] seems to look upon Ye Olde England as a timeless realm of romance and fantasy—the kind of place where two impossible crimes can easily occur, if not before breakfast, then certainly within a 24-hour period. The plot here doesn’t reach the heights of Carrian cleverness or complexity, but it’s one that Carr or any other impossible-crime chronicler of the 1930s might have been proud to fashion. And Sladek, having witnessed the modern spectacle of Portobello Road, writes with a satiric worldliness that departs from the relatively ingenuous tone that earlier mystery writers brought to writing about the everyday miracle that is London.
Jeff Meyerson at MYSTERY*FILE (8 June 2010) reviews BLACK AURA and the only other Thackeray Phin novel, INVISIBLE GREEN:
. . . Sladek handles both problems with a nice bit of misdirection worthy of Carr. The characters are eccentric and well-defined, the atmosphere is suitably Carrian.
Sladek wrote mostly science fiction. He explained why in a 1982 interview:
I think these days an SF connection would be a boost to other books; I'm sure more people have read my two little detective puzzles because of the SF connection. Those two novels suffered mainly from being written about 50 years after the fashion for puzzles of detection. I enjoyed writing them, planning the absurd crimes and clues, but I found I was turning out a product the supermarket didn't need any more—stove polish or yellow cakes of laundry soap. One could starve very quickly writing locked-room mysteries like those. SF has much more glamour and glitter attached to it, in these high-tech days.
- A Wikipedia article ("John Thomas Sladek").

Category: Detective fiction

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