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The Donnington Affair

The Donnington Affair is an intriguing example of a detective story with multiple authors (a idea that would enjoy a considerable vogue during the golden age of detective fiction). The first half of The Donnington Affair was written by Sir Max Pemberton and published in October 1914. It gives us the set-up and the murder. Pemberton challenged G.K. Chesterton to provide the solution. The second half of the story, published in the same periodical a month later, was written by Chesterton and describes Father Brown’s solution to the mystery.

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About the Murder of Geraldine Foster

Charles Fulton Oursler (1893-1952) wrote eight detective novels under the name Anthony Abbot. All feature New York Police Commissioner Thatcher Colt. The first four were published in quick succession between 1930 and 1932. The second batch of four, which are apparently slightly different in tone, came out between 1935 and 1943. About the Murder of Geraldine Foster was the first of the Thatcher Colt mysteries.

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Father Brown, the 1954 movie

And since we're on the subject of Father Brown, fans of Chesterton's priestly sleuth might be interested in my review of the 1954 Father Brown movie with Alec Guinness in the title role.

The Wisdom of Father Brown

The Wisdom of Father Brown was the second of G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown short story collections, appearing in 1914.

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Dick Donovan: The Glasgow Detective

The Dick Donovan stories have some historical interest in being fairly early entries in the detective fiction genre, and also in being remarkably popular in their day. The stories were written by J. E. Preston Muddock (1842-1934) under the pseudonym Dick Donovan, Dick Donovan being also the name of the detective protagonist. Dick Donovan: The Glasgow Detective is a collection of eighteen of these stories (Muddock wrote around 200 of these stories in total in addition to work in many other genres).

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Ernest Bramah's Max Carrados Stories

Ernest Bramah (1868-1942) wrote science fiction and humorous stories but is best remembered today for his detective stories. He published three collections of short stories recounting the exploits of the blind detective Max Carrados, the first collection appearing in 1914.

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The Pleasure Cruise Mystery

Robin Forsythe (1879-1937) was released from prison in 1929 after serving his sentence for his part in the notorious Somerset House stamp fraud scheme. Having discovered that real life crime has unpleasant consequences he decided to turn his attentions to fictional crime instead. His first detective novel appeared in 1929 and was followed by seven more before his untimely death. These included five novels featuring amateur detective Algernon Vereker, the third being The Pleasure Cruise Mystery which appeared in 1933.

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The Body in the Bonfire

The Body in the Bonfire (also published as The Case of the Bonfire Body), one of Christopher Bush’s sixty-three Ludovic Travers mysteries, appeared in 1936. By this time Bush had already written more than a dozen mysteries and was obviously well into his stride.

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an underwhelming Miss Marple series

I finally got around to watching an episode of the BBC’s Miss Marple series. I watched A Caribbean Mystery, originally broadcast in 1989.

I’m afraid I was bitterly disappointed. Part of the problem is that no attempt was made to introduce us properly to the characters so the plot seemed more obscure than it needed to be.

Joan Hickson was a perfectly acceptable Miss Marple. Donald Pleasence is a delight as the wealthy, irascible and wildly eccentric wheelchair-bound tycoon Jason Rafiel. T. P. McKenna is as solid as usual. The rest of the cast though presented major problems. In fact several of them manage to pull off the impressive feat of delivering performances that are both wooden and histrionic, something I didn’t think was possible.

I assume the setting is supposed to be approximately the late 1950s. It looks terrific. Unfortunately it isn’t the slightest bit convincing. This is too obviously the 1950s as seen through the lens of the late 1980s. It’s like a 1980s party with all the guests wearing 1950s costumes.

My biggest problem was that I ended up not caring whether Miss Marple solved the mystery or not. Since the characters seemed phony and the acting was mostly terrible it didn’t matter to me if they wanted to slaughter each other.

Was I just horribly unlucky in striking a particularly poor episode? Is it worth going any further with this series? Perhaps it’s just not the kind of adaptation that appeals to me.

The Headless Lady

Stage magician and amateur detective The Great Merlini made his debut in Clayton Rawson’s 1938 novel Death from a Top Hat. Rawson wrote a total of four Great Merlini mysteries, the third (and the subject of this review) being his 1940 The Headless Lady.

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