Friday, May 30, 2014

"Absolutely One of the Best Locked Rooms"

By Horatio Winslow (1882-1972) and Leslie W. Quirk (1882-1960).
Crime Club: Doubleday, Doran & Co.
1929 [US publication]. 278 pages.
Recently a Roaring Twenties novel was translated into Italian:
Into Thin Air is for good reason a masterpiece, even if long and undeservedly forgotten: it possesses the qualities that make it a must-fiction, and also only for lovers of that sub-genre of whodunnit, that is “The Locked Room”: it was added in all the rankings of the best history of Locked Rooms.
The plot is based on the murder mystery (and definitely more mysterious disappearance of the murderer), Dr. Klotz, a caricatural figure, who, with its colorful expressions, with his quotes, jokes, also in German, and its culture encyclopedic, reminded us Dr. Gideon Fell by Carr, whose first adventure, Hag’s Nookdates back to 1933, 5 years after the release of the novel Into Thin Air.
Dr. Klotz is a criminologist (and therefore may have been, with Chesterton, the source of inspiration for the Carrian character). He is “Head of the Department of Criminology at the University of Wisconsin,” has the habit of unmasking impostors, to bother and making fun of the beautiful young women, to ridicule anyone he deems worthy of it, not caring about the resentment. — Pietro De Palma, VANISHED INTO THIN AIR (October 25, 2013)
This is an unusual combination of the scientific-psychological detective novel, with the impossible crime story. The novel, which is the sole known detective work of its authors, reflects many features of the American Scientific School of its day.
. . . Into Thin Air contains a number of experimental features, offering variations on the typical detective story construction. Such experimentation derives not from the Scientific School, but from an eclectic series of general purpose detective novels.
. . . while the later chapters of Into Thin Air contains numerous impossible situations, most are variations on one common approach, one whose "magic trick" style explanation is only moderately interesting. Most of these later chapters seem in general less creative than the opening sections, which are the best part of the work. In general, the plotting is better than the writing or characterization in this novel. — Mike Grost, GAD Wiki ("Into Thin Air")

Category: Detective fiction

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