Re: [GAdetection] Re: Paul Halter tomes
- Dear Mike,
One of the great strengths of the impossible crime is that it has to be closely written if it is to come off; any looseness or shillyshallying, and it simply comes unstuck. This is of great importance in the detective story, where the devil is very often in the details, and (as R Austin Freeman recognised) the more details there are, the easier it is to deceive an intelligent reader. One of Carr's greatest strengths was his ability to devise really good clues and bury them in the text, leaving the intelligent reader to fall foul of the red herrings. The only author who really matched his genius for plot construction was Christianna Brand, and it's interesting that several of her works are impossible crimes (Heads You Lose, Green for Danger, Suddenly at His Residence and Death of Jezebel).
That said, there are a lot of very good detective writers (e.g. Mitchell, Sayers, Allingham and early Innes and Bailey) whose strengths are in a richness of vision rather than in tight plotting. The ingenuity of their plots tends to come from complexity and characterisation, with several strands in their tangled skeins.
It's odd that you should mention Queen as a tight writer, as his books strike me as being very loose and flaccid. Most of The Egyptian Cross, American Gun and Chinese Orange Mysteries can safely be omitted without harming the book, and Face to Face is one of the thinnest detective stories I've ever read.
"a citizen of the Universe, and a gentleman to boot"
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- I enjoyed this review very much. I'm a dedicated EQ reader, and I'm one of
those who consider CAT his masterpiece (though I think that the final
quarter of the book is less riveting than the first part.)
> Nice back and forth. I like the format a lot.
> As for Cat of Many Tails.... personally I never liked that one at all.
> I mean, the puzzle was good, but I find serial killers to be super
> boring. (And I guess no matter how well-written, that's a hard thing to
> over come in a reader.)
> I will probably read it again though. Always liked Queen.