The fun one has trailing the greatest crime solvers through the pages of countless detective novels is nothing compared to following a bold, fearless super villain. Someone who captures the imagination with simple motives of greed and the lack of scruples needed to obtain that wealth no matter the cost. Human happiness is unimportant. Human life is merely a means to an end. Wether it be a precious stone, an antique or astounding piles of cash the entrancing villain holds nothing back. Each time they strike for the heart. This direct attitude towards achieving sinister goals is attractive but frequently leads to criminals capture in the end.
Madam Sara is an unusual woman. Though she looks no older than 25 she is rumored to have been a bridesmaid at a wedding over 30 years ago. Though she appears beautiful and stylish her hands are tied up in unscrupulous deals and illegal trades. She may be the greatest criminal mind of her generation. The only things stopping her are the minds of two men. One a wise medical examiner who works frequently to untie the thorniest criminal problems in England. The other a man of high standing with a business research agency in London. He can learn about most peoples affairs instantly but Madam Sara is a more difficult and careful opponent. You will believe in magic after meeting The Sorceress of the Strand.
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Meeting my old friends, Lupin and Holmes, is incredibly refreshing. This novel packs two of my favorite characters into one delicious novel. Like ordinary foods wrapped in bacon this novel is greater than the sum of its parts. At first glance, you might assume that Leblanc would favor the character he created by making Holmes look like foolish. Leblanc is too good of a writer to stoop to corrupting the classic Holmes character. Rather you find that Holmes and Lupin both show remarkable insight, intelligence and cunning. Ultimately neither character triumphs because they never play by the same rules. Lupin has access to his vast criminal network alongside the home field advantage of Paris and France in general. Holmes is restricted by the law and his relative unfamiliarity with the region and its people. It is a rollicking good time though.
A mysterious jewel has been stolen, a man murdered and Lupin has evaded capture in a most mysterious way multiple times in a row. The French police force alongside its most celebrated detective is at a complete loss of where to go next. The clues seems to dissolve into thin air and Lupin has apparently managed the scientific marvel of teleportation. In these humbling circumstances Herlock Sholmes(name changed for copyright reasons) is called to Paris to solve the case. Arriving in Paris, Sholmes and Lupin have a chance meeting at small restaurant. Lupin chides Sholmes who appears flustered by the encounter. In his British matter of fact way, he explains to Lupin that he will wrap up the case in 10 days because he has other mysteries to unravel back home in England. Lupin laughs at this hubris and the dash is on to solve the mystery of the blonde lady. Sit courtside at the match of the century: Arsene Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes.
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How much can one trust oneself amidst confusing circumstances? At what point does someone dismiss the talking flamingo as a hallucination? At what point does ones sanity become suspect? I suffer from a persistent case of deja vu. A small part of me suspects that I am in a coma in some hospital with loved ones and trained professionals watching over me unmoving body. What can I do to confirm that I really am in a coma? Nothing obvious comes to mind so I continue living as before hoping that my reality is real and that I am not in a coma. For these reasons witnessing a murder and finding the killer and the dead body gone would confuse me. Very quickly I would dismiss my own perceptions and give myself the benefit of insanity. Those prone to paranoia frequently dismiss their wildest assumptions. Luckily in this novel Mr. Brice trusts his initial observations.
Mr. Brice has just witnessed a murder. He saw what appeared to be a struggle through the obscuring, tempered glass across the hall and he heard a shot. Rushing in as quickly as he could he finds no one. He also finds no guns or blood around the office. He can’t even locate the secretary. The only evidence to back up his assertion is the smell of smoke from a freshly fired pistol. Where is the dead man and who killed him? Find out with The Man Who Fell Through the Earth.
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Criminals frequently think themselves clever. Not only do they hope to get away with murder or robbery but they intend to do it without any suspicion under the scrutinizing eyes of the police. There is immense hubris in this attitude. One has to work much more carefully to break rules than to follow them. To think that one is above rules and can masterfully weave a convincing story to fill in the lying gaps shows an absurd level of confidence. I admire criminals for their bold and uncompromising attitudes but I don’t admire their endeavors. I admire criminals the same way I admire people who attempt to eat five pound burgers in one meal. They are ambitious yet foolhardy and are prone to failure. If they succeed, it will be a close scrape and fun to watch.
A murder is committed in a English manor house out in the countryside. Friends from London had been invited down to the old moat-house. This house is full of many people who would normally be suspects. In this case, they all seem to have alibis. The shot was heard while all were listening to a fantastic story of adventure set in the far off land of New Zealand while passing the time after dinner. Each person can account for everyone else because they all waited at the dinner table to hear the end of the story. When the tale ended, a scream quickly followed by a shot came from upstairs. Rushing up the stairs Violet, the newly married lady of the house, is found shot through the lung causing internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, and finally death. The police are immediately called in to investigate. Watch out for a late appearance from well-known crime solver Grant Colwyn. Will Colwyn and the police find the true murderer or will they be grasping about blind like The Hand in the Dark?
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One difficulty every detective faces is when the interpret clues and convict the wrong person. How you react under this foreseen difficulty defines your worth as a crime solver? A crappy detective looks at the available clues and creates one possible version of the murder. A better detective looks at the available clues and finds a highly likely version of the murder. An ace detective looks at the available clues and finds the only possible version of the murder. Grant Colwyn lies somewhere between the better and ace detectives in the rankings. He is unable to instantly and smoothly cut through the bullshit and arrive at the only possible right answer. At the same time, he is able to cut out most of the unimportant details and focus on the vital facts of the case. As someone who doesn’t like to be wrong, even momentarily, the detective business is not for me. I sure do enjoy watching others take a try at it.
Grant Colwyn is vacationing along the Norfolk coast at a large hotel. At breakfast Colwyn and a doctor see a young man acting strangely. The doctor quickly diagnoses the young man with a rare nervous disease that can cause unremembered fits of violence. He moves to stop a senseless act and confront the young man as he quickly rises from the table. Upon confrontation the young man promptly faints and must be carried to his room by Colwyn and the doctor, a famous nerve specialist. Upon waking up the young man leaves the hotel quickly, clearly embarrassed and annoyed with the whole ordeal. A day later, the young man is the lead suspect in a murder occurring at a small inn not too far away. The doctor takes this as conclusive proof of his correct diagnosis but Detective Colwyn is unsure. Soon we find that the unimpressive young man is actually the youngest member of an eminent British family. And what do the ghostly rumors have to do with it? Close your eyes when you hear noise from The Shrieking Pit.
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For every mystery in the world there is a skeptic. Some skeptics scoff at each new invention or discovery while others actively try to illuminate the truth. If history has proven anything, its that skeptics are frequently annoying and upsetting people to be around. Human beings inherently love illusions wether theatrical or mundane. Superstition, religion, folklore, and home remedies have their detractors who for the most part enrage the true believers. It takes tremendous tact and self belief to work professionally or as a hobbyist in the exposure business. The comfortable and the lazy would never seek such a controversial way of life. In fiction, many great examples of polite mystery solvers abound. This book deserves to sit on the shelf with the best of the genre.
John Bell is an exposer of ghostly phenomena, curses and superstitions. With a concrete knowledge of the limits of the physical world alongside an encyclopedic knowledge of every type of fakery Bell investigates unusual, spooky phenomena. The culprits are sometimes people other times nature herself. In the first case, Bell is called upon to investigate the queer death of a rich artist. It has all the signs of an intriguing mystery. A circular room, an enduring legend, and three unaccountable deaths. Bring your wits and your intelligence while you stay up late with A Master of Mysteries.
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The locked room mystery is a classic for a reason. Like a murderous Rubiks Cube it delights and confounds every way you twist it. Another type of classic mystery story and my personal favorite sub-genre of detective novel follows the amateur detective. This may not even appear at first to be a sub-genre. In fact the majority of detective novels seem to neatly slide into this category. Let me specify. I am speaking only of the first case tackled by an amateur detective. For example, Miss Marple would be in this genre only the first time she confronts a murderer. For the most part, the big names don’t fall into this genre because they quickly become old hands at the detecting game. This little book combines the two themes in arrangement with a pinch of romance thrown in as well. Comfort food at its best.
Otis Landon, a lawyer, is in the benign habit of getting the newspaper the moment it falls on the doorstep and looking across the hall. Many times he only sees Charlotte, his neighbor’s servant, retrieving the morning paper as well. Yet he wakes up early everyday in the hopes of seeing his attractive neighbor, Miss Janet Pembroke, answer the door. Today is different. A man rushes past Mr. Landon as the lawyer is leaving his apartment. Miss Pembroke exits the opposite flat and hustles the doctor into her flat in great distress. She thinks her uncle is sick but in fact he’s been murdered. A small metal pin pushed into his skull while he slept killed him instantly. The problem is that only three people were in that flat last night behind a locked door and shuttered windows: his neighbor, her servant and the murdered man. Who is the murderer and how did they get through the locked door? Pull out your magnifying glass and play amateur detective alongside Mr. Landon by following A Chain of Evidence.
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