Tuesday, April 5, 2022

"A Man Was Found Dead in a Sealed Room, Locked from the Inside"

"The Locked Room: Another Fenton Worth Mystery."
By John Sladek (1937-2000).
First appearance: New Worlds, Winter 1972.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short short story (7 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; PDF; go to page 168).

In his review of "The Locked Room: Another Fenton Worth Mystery," TomCat nicely characterizes what you're getting with this story:

  ". . . [John] Sladek also wrote a parody on the impossible crime genre, aptly titled 'The Locked Room,' which is virtually unknown because it's inexplicably buried in a volume of science-fiction stories – Keep the Giraffe Burning (1978). If you've always wondered what would happen if you tossed Douglas Adams or Monty Python into the blender with John Dickson Carr's 'The Locked Lecture,' a chapter from The Hollow Man (1935), then you have to read this story" (Beneath the Stains of Time HERE; also see HERE for more articles about Sladek).

Main characters:
~ Fenton Worth:
  "For now, I'm going to lock myself in the library, and I don't want to be disturbed."
~ Bozo:
  "I imagine, sir, that a beautiful lady will burst in, begging you to save her life."
. . . plus Inspector Grogan, the debutante, the B-girl, the Brovnian ambassador, the gum-chewing taxi drive, the business tycoon, the spirit medium, the jockey, the playboy, the cop, the black-eyed blonde, the parched adjutant, and the Human Cannonball.

References and resources:
- "that knife with a wavy blade": Spelled "kriis" in our story:
  "Both a weapon and spiritual object, kris are often considered to have an essence or presence, considered to possess magical powers, with some blades possessing good luck and others possessing bad" (Wikipedia HERE).
- John Thomas Sladek is best known to locked room mystery fans for his two Thackeray Phin novels, Black Aura (1974), which we highlighted (HERE), and Invisible Green (1977), reviewed at The Invisible Event (HERE), Tipping My Fedora (HERE), and My Reader's Block (HERE). Just about all you'll need to know about John Sladek is at Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the Ansible interview (HERE).

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