101 Years’ Entertainment, Edited by Ellery Queen (Part 3 of 6: the blah club)


101 Years' Entertainment: The Great Detective Stories of Over A Century

Part 3 of 6: the blah club

This is the interesting part about an anthology of so many different authors: some are great, others just don’t stand out in the crowd. Not bad, not exceptional, here are is the mediocre of the crop of mysteries…
• The Puzzle lock, by R. Austin Freeman, Dr. Thorndyke. A big gang bust is in the air for the police, but first, they must find the criminals, who have mysteriously disappeared. The whole city ahse been searched, except the room behind one particular locked door…
• The Secret Garden, by Bilbert K. Chesterton, Father Brown. A gathering at the constable’s house turns deadly, and even the victim is not all he seems. Father Brown is a very boring person to listen to, full of half ideas that only come to fruition after the murderer has accomplished all his ends.
• The Man Who Spoke Latin, by Samuel Hopkins, Average Jones. A truly average mystery, with some fun twists and several missing plot points (and, for those of you who know Latin, even more plot holes). A new man in town cozies up to an eccentric professor and claims to have woken from a Coma speaking only Latin.
• The Long Dinner, by H.C. Bailey, Mr. Fortune. A disappearing artist, a orphan’s boarding school, and two dead children are connected across the English Cahnnel. The idea is interesting, but the red herrings prove gruesome, and the eternal yaking between the two protagonists is futile as regards enlightenment or entertainment.
• The Tragedy At Brookbend Cottage, by Enerst Bramah, Max Carrados. A woman’s isster is caught in a loveless marriage to a… you know the story. Our author tries to add a twist of tragedy to cliché, but its really quite insulting to feminity (and therefore not in the “Great” section).
• The Borderline Case, by Maragary Allingham. A man is shot from a window at a club he wasn’t near, with no apparent witnesses. The mafia rule the town on this one, as is made clear at the beginning, and we end with the same murkiness that borders on stupidity but just manages to be above it somewhere in the realm of annoying.
• The Mystery of Mrs. Dickenson, by Nicholas Carter, Nick Carter. The editorial comments on this one (to the effect that Nick Carter is infamous) seem unfounded, but whatever his reputation, it’s a rather mediocere storyline. A con is being pulled, in a rich
• The Doomdorf Mystery, by Melville Davisson Post, Uncle Abner. The twists and turns in the story are clever, as is the (also clever but very much impossible) climax. It’s the blathering boredom of Abner and his sidekick talking the whole story long that leaves you sleepy.
• Introducing Susan Dare, by Mignon Eberhart, Susan Dare. Another whodunit where all but the crucial clues are withheld, and the reader is, in the end, left thoroughly confused as to why the who and how the dun it.
• The Tea Leaf, by Edgar Jepson, Ruth Kelstern. A by now very cliché story of a murder without a weapon, a lover without an alibi, and a controlling father who can’t let go even in death.
• The Mackenzie Case, by Viola Brothers Shore, Gwynn Leith. Written in classic format, our heroine must navigate a series of differing clues on her cruise ships’ most interesting personalities: a millionaire and his companion, washed overboard one at a time in Cuba’s warm waters.

Overall, an unprepossessing group. I must say, in writing this review, I was struck by how unfun it is to write a lukewarm review. The truly pathetic are rife with sarcastic availability, while the great rise above in praiseworthy verbage; but there just isn’t much to say when its lukewarm middle-of-the-roadness all around. It brought to mind that scripture about being more desireable to God as hot or cold water (lukewarm being just no use : the Supreme writer of His Story would know that feeling.

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