Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Tragedy of Shakespearian Pretentiousness

I'm pretty sure that the people on this blog know about Ellery Queen, but if not, let me elaborate.
 
Ellery Queen is the creation of Manfred B. Lee (the writer) and Fredric Dannay (the plotter). Ellery Queen also served as their pen name, which probably led to people assuming that this was some early form of self-insert fanfiction. The books are known for twisty plotting, serious attempts at making more psychological mystery novels. and for being hilariously overwritten. To me anyways.

The Tragedy of Errors and Others' main feature is an unpublished novel, the outline of which was sent to Lee before he died. Crippen and Landru got their hands on it and published it, along with a few other stories and essays, for the 70th anniversary of the first book, The Roman Hat Mystery. Does this novel live up to Queen's standards, as much as I can judge as I've never read one of their novels so I'm probably completely unqualified and I'll stop now.


The Tragedy of Errors

Morna Richmond could've been a star. She was great in the silent films, but when she actually had to act, things fell apart. Now she spends her days in a castle estate, waiting for her big break, which she will receive. Posthumously, of course. She is found dead on her estate, murdered by someone who did a terrible job of making it look like suicide. The murderer is obvious, but Ellery can't shake the feeling that there's more to it...

Pros

+ Fairly clued, as far as I can see. Impressive, considering that this is just an outline.
+ The killer is hidden well.
+ The plot is good and twisty.
+ I enjoy what was done with the will. Unrealistic, but this is pointed out in-story, and I can still appreciate the effort.
+ I just love Dion Procter, because he just goes through the book with this "I don't give a crap" attitude. Considering how insane the plot gets...

Cons

- Let's start with the simple one; this thing feels overwritten. This is something I see in almost every novel snippet I see, these two just keep inserting unnecessary pretentiousness. But that's a matter of personal opinion.
- What was the point of (SPOLIERS Dion Procter? A red herring? If so, he worked on me, but I kind of wanted more to be done with him. END SPOILERS)
- This is probably more personal stupidity more than anything, but... what was the killer's motive again? I know they'd end up with enough money to buy at least two copies of Locked Room Murders, but their final conversation implied that there was more to it. Am I being dense? Was Dannay being too lofty?
- While the killer's plan mostly works, I do have one complaint. (SPOLIERS Why didn't Buck rat Rago out? Ellery says that he manipulated Buck, and unless he used subliminal messages, I don't see how Buck could be unaware of it. Why didn't he tell the police that "Oh by the way, Rago gave me this idea." For that matter, how would Rago be sure that he would off himself? END SPOLIERS)

This is a pretty good story. A complete judgment is impossible, due to it being an outline, but I believe that it would have been good if it had been completed. (Also, as a side note, Let me boast to TomCat that I did not fall into the same trap he did. I didn't solve it, but I take my victories where I can get them. Even if I achieved that victory through ignorance.)
 
Terror Town
 
Tommy Cooley walked away one October day. The town searched and searched but never could find him...until the spring rains turned up his body. And that was only the beginning of a series of murders that would shake the town to its core...
 
This story mocks me. It has good atmosphere, the clueing, while sparse, is fair, and I liked the motive for the murders. The main problem is the Dang. Romance. Plot! Look, I'm not like S.S. Van Dine, marching up the isles going "Harumph!" at romance plots. Heck, I don't mind when one is part of a story; it gives more emotional investment. But it's never done well in mysteries, as I learned here. It's annoying and gets in the way of the story. Heck, I could write a better romance! The rest of the story's good though.
 
Uncle From Australia
 
Ellery has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a real uncle from Australia. Complete with fortune to be willed away! As well as a knife in his back, and the dying message "Hall". If only all the people with a motive to kill him didn't share the same last name...
 
A simple story, with a good dying message. Not much more to say.

Note: The next three stories all have the same device of Ellery receiving problems from the Puzzle Club, a group of smart and rich people with nothing better to do.

The Three Students

Take a valuable ring. Now give three students access to it. End result: one missing ring and one strange note...

Unfortunately, this is one of those stories where there's only one clue, and if you don't have the knowledge to decipher that clue, you're outta luck. It's ultimately a guessing game.

The Odd Man

An undercover agent is murdered while looking into drug trafficking. The only clue he leaves behind is the killer is the "odd" one of the three...

Better than the last story. There are three possible solutions, so you have a pretty good chance of being able to figure out at least one. The knowledge required is also less specialized.

The Honest Swindler

Old Pete said that he was looking for uranium, and that he needed money. He got $50,000, because he said that his investor would get their money back. He doesn't find a thing, but he lives up to his promise...

Probably the best of these three stories. The situation is clever, and the solution is obvious once it's pointed out.

The Reindeer Clue (by Edward D. Hoch)

A two-bit blackmailer is shot to death in a reindeer pen. Of course, this being an Ellery Queen story, he's able to leave behind a dying message... that accuses Santa's reindeer...?

This is a fun story. It's short, to the point, and the dying message is clever, with only the bare minimum of specialized knowledge required.


The rest of the book contains reminisces and essays, and those are a little out of my expertise. I will, however, recommend Robert Adey's "The Impossible Mr. Queen" for a look at the locked room mysteries in the novels and short stories.

I really like this collection. The stories are of almost consistently good quality, the essays and the like are interesting, and the unfinished Queen novel is bound to excite the Queen fan boys.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10

Next time, Ellery Queen: Radio Personality. Thanks for reading!
 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Please Lock The Door On Your Way Out

So, I decided on the anthology.
 
Death Locked In is an anthology revolving around locked rooms (I hear your mind being blown) and
is edited by Douglas G. Greene (author of John Dickson Carr's biography) and Robert Adey (who wrote the definitive guide to locked rooms that is now about two decades out of date and costs the GDP of Switzerland. I still want it.) The book starts with a historical mystery before moving on into locked room. Then, it goes into uncategorized impossible crimes. It then details some impossible disappearances before wrapping up with a soft science fiction story.

Needless to say, there's a lot of variety here, but variety does not make an anthology. Is this worth your time and money?
 
(Thanks to P.J. Bergman of The Locked Room for reviewing this first. Not because I'm ripping you off, but because I can just copy and paste the titles instead of typing them myself! And your picture too!)

The First Locked Room by Lillian de la Torre

Three women lie dead. Two have been strangled and one beaten. The door is locked. An innocent woman stands accused. and guess what? It all really happened...

This is more de la Torre showing off a historical curiosity rather than a straight mystery, but it's a good historical curiosity. de la Torre's research is to be applauded and while the solution is simple, I can't say that I cared in the face of the fact that we don't have enough real-life locked rooms. We take what we can get!

Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
 
A young woman finds herself in the care of her uncle. Genre conventions already establish this as a Bad Thing (TM) and it just gets worse when you consider the lecherous son and the fact that the uncle was accused of murdering a man in a locked room...

Why is this story here? It's a good suspense story, no doubt, but there really isn't a reason to have this in, considering the small role the locked room plays in the plot. Is it because (SPOLIER we get to see the locked room from the would-be victim's point of view? END SPOLIER) It's interesting, but not a story I would have chosen, personally.
 
I Can Find My Way Out by Ngaio Marsh
 
Theater's are hotbeds of murder and mayhem. Just ask Cann Cumberland, a drunken actor who steals the spotlight from his betters... until he gets gassed in a locked dressing room that is...

Well. This story. Ngaio Marsh is well-loved right? Because I didn't enjoy this story. At all. It's bizarrely paced, I don't even think that the solution was clearly stated (I just might not understand gas heaters though), and the story just has no life ,which ultimately killed it for me.

The Suicide of Kiaros by Frank Baum

Felix Marston needs money, and he needs it now. Rather than turn to J. G. Wentworth, he comes up with a better plan. Ask a Greek moneylender for some money, and when that fails, kill him, and make it look like a suicide...

Yes, this was written by the author of The Wizard Of Oz. And it's a good story too, even though the trick is simple. Though the idea of a reverse whodunit locked room holds quite an appeal...

The Spherical Ghoul by Fredric Brown

A part-time morgue worker is looking forward to an easy night's work. Then the unidentified body gets it's face eaten off, and he was sitting in front of the locked door the whole time. Could a ghoul have slipped in through a twelve inch vent...?

The set-up is creative, and the clueing is mostly fair. The solution is somewhat iffy, though it is executed better than some other mysteries that have used the same thing.

Out of His Head by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

A young woman is found with her throat slit in a room with the door locked and the windows too high up to allow escape. It doesn't help that the detective here is a lunatic...

This story is really only interesting for the detective who, it must be said, is interesting. The solution is a pure cheat though.

Murder by Proxy by M. McDinnell Bodkin

A man is shot to death while napping and the killer vanishes from the room in spite of witnesses. That is, unless the old "it-was-the-first-person-who-found-the-body" trick applies...

Obviously it doesn't, as Not-Sherlock-Holmes proves. The main trick isn't much better, but it works, and I would like to see it in a different context. (The fact that this is an older story might've left me without much confidence in a good solution.)

Out of This World by Peter Godfrey

I've reviewed this story already under Large And In Charge, so I'll just link that.

The Mystery of the Hotel de L'Orme by M. M. B.

A woman is smothered behind her locked bedroom door, and her jewels are stolen. The only one who could have done it was her servant, who claimed to see a face in a mirror in a locked room shorty before the murder...

Not that good. It's old, so the dread overwriting appears, and the solution (to me) makes no sense. (SPOLIERS Considering the distance, could a single board really support a man? END SPOLIERS) This could just be my ignorance though. (The solution still isn't particularly good anyhow though...)

The Magic Bullet by Edward D. Hoch

In the country of Beneu, trouble is brewing. It looks like a rebellion is brewing and tension are running high. Not that this is really important when you have a United States ambassador shot to death in his locked and bulletproof car...

Just when despair sets in, Hoch comes to spark this anthology's rise in quality with his usual near-perfection. The clues are well-laid, the solution is the best kind of simple solution (it's so simple and obvious that you kick yourself when you miss it) and it's just great all around. My sole complaint is the sheer "Wait, what?" in the interaction with the token female, and I'm sue you'll notice it when you see it. Also... I wonder how much the guy named Harry PONDER knows about magic... (Sorry)

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins

A young man, fresh from victory at the gambling tables, is invited to celebrate at an inn. Little does he know that he will soon find his life in mortal peril...

...I'm torn. On one hand, this is a good story, and a good example of the "room that kills" idea. On the other hand, It's really not a locked room except for a mention of the protagonist locking his door. It's good, I'm just wondering why it's here. (Also, I'm ashamed to admit that it took me a long while to recognize Wilkie Collins as the author of The Moonstone.)

The Room with Something Wrong by Cornell Woolrich

Room 913 has problems. Oh, it's a nice enough room on its own, it just has a nasty habit of throwing people out of it at random...

The longest story in this anthology, but well worth it. I has a few flaws (SPOLIERS We get no hints that the killer has a keycard, for example END SPOLIERS) but they're all pretty minor. This story actually makes me want to read more Woolrich...

Invisible Hands by John Dickson Carr

King's Arthur's Chair is a small natural rock formation that sits on a beach. Considering who the author is, it should come as no surprise that someone is strangled to death near that chair with only her footprints in sight...

My first exposure to Carr! And it could have been better! The set-up is good, but the characters seemed... off in a way that can't be justified by, "It's Carr." The solution never set right with me either (SPOLIERS I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea that a whip was used. You'd only have one shot, and your aim could get off too easily. I could buy it better if it was a lasso... END SPOLIERS) The irony in the killer's motive is good though.

The X Street Murders by Joseph Commings

Once again, already reviewed. Please check the above link.

The Mystery of Room No. 11 by Nicholas Carter

All Willie Gray wanted to do was find his mother. Instead, he finds himself caught in a police stakeout, faced with the possibility that his mother is dead, and having to explain how his mother, dead or alive, could have left a building surrounded by police...

Merely okay. The set-up is good, but the solution is too simple. (This may or not be because the editors say where the solution probably came from, which leads the mind in a certain direction.) As said, merely okay.

The Man Who Disappeared by L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace

After years at sea, Oscar Digby returns with the location of vast amounts of gold. Not that he'll be able to make use of it after he walks into an observed house and vanishes...

About the same as above. Clich├ęs run rampant, but the story is passible. The solution is merely okay. (SPOLIERS Would those chemicals really dissolve a body like that? END SPOILERS)

The Invisible Man by G.K. Chesterton

Years ago, Laura Hope promised two men that she would marry whoever made his way in the world. One became an inventor. The other seems to have found the power to turn invisible...

This is the Chesterton story everyone has heard of! If his name or Father Brown's name is mentioned, this is the story everyone thinks of. And I didn't care for it's solution. (SPOLIERS While I believe that this trick can work, both Carr and Christie have done it, it can't in this story. Everyone has been told to watch out for someone, whereas in the other stories, the people being fooled aren't paying attention. END SPOLIERS) It's a good story, just not as good as everyone says it is.

The Adventure of the Man Who Could Double the Size of Diamonds by Ellery Queen

Professor Lazarus, currently on leave from Doctor Who, claims that he can double the size of diamonds. Amazingly, people believe him and set him up in a tightly guarded lab where he can't leave without going through procedures that would make the TSA complain about invasions of privacy. Not this it stops him from spiriting the diamonds out of the lab...

This actually isn't a story, but a radio play, so it might take a bit to get used to the script format. But it's well worth it, as this is a good story. The solution is simple, yes, but it's designed to fly straight over your head. And hey, I didn't solve it, so clearly something was done right.

The Mystery of the Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle

A train carrying an important man with important papers leaves its station, and never arrives at its destination. With no other routes off, the only answer is that it vanished into thin air...

Ah, the "vanishing train" plot. Incredibly difficult to pull off, amazing if you do, and Doyle does and doesn't. The solution works (and is kind od terrifying when you think about it from the victim's point of view) but the idea that this would leave no evidence that the numerous authorities investigating this wouldn't notice is bizarre.

Off the Face of the Earth by Clayton Rawson

Bela Zyyzk is a lunatic. Who else but a lunatic would proclaim that a woman will vanish of the face of the earth? A correct one, for not only does she vanish, but a judge he makes a similar proclamation to vanishes as well, this time from an observed phone booth...

Excellent story. The solution is long, yes, but it's easily followed, and clever to boot. Not much more to say here, except that I believe that I saw through Merlini's trick when I first read it.

The Grinning God by May Futrelle/The House that Was by Jacques Futrelle

A young man gets messed up in a storm and drawn into a living nightmare. Ghostly women rising into the air, a man who seems to completely ignore him, and a mysterious grinning idol...

The first story is a ghost story, and the second is a solution presented by The Thinking Machine. It's a interesting concept, but it's clear that Futrelle's wife made this too difficult, as the answers really don't hold up to scrutiny. (SPOLIERS How didn't the protagonist notice that the woman was climbing? How does a blind, deaf, and mute man take care of himself and his insane sister? What was that fire all about? etc. END SPOLIERS)

Thin Air by Bill Pronzini

Pronzini's nameless gumshoe has a simple task ahead of him; follow some lady's husband, and gather proof that he's cheating on her. Then the husband vanishes from his locked car, which Nameless was watching at the time...

This is good. The story flows at a nice pace, there's a good reason for the disappearance, and the story seems more fairly clued than some of Pronzini's other stories.

Elsewhen by Anthony Boucher

Harrison Partridge has built a time machine. Sure, you can only go so far with it, but it's still a time machine! Too bad that he soon embarks upon the road of the comic book supervillian, and instead of making it public, he uses it to commit the perfect crime...

An excellent end to the collection. It's a well-done reverse whodunit, and a good example of how to incorporate soft- science fiction and mystery. My only two complaints are that time paradoxes are involved, and that means headaches (though they are done very well), and that I find it hard to believe that no one would be interested in a time machine! Even if you can't remember or explain exactly how it's done, you'd think that the science community would be all over this! This guy's sister is an idiot.

And that's Death Locked In for you. It's certainly better than the last anthology I reviewed, if just because their are more actual locked rooms here, but the quality just jumps around too much. It makes reviewing harder too.

I give this anthology a 6.5/10

Next time, we'll get to that lost Ellery Queen novel! Thanks for reading, and be sure to comment!

(Sorry for the long wait. The first picture I used caused this to glitch out a little, and then I got distracted. I'll try to have another entry this week.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Diagnosis: Somewhat Difficult


Hey, more Hoch! I know it seems a little quick to look at the next set of Dr. Sam Hawthorne stories already, but this was the next book I read in my epic quest to read locked room mysteries and I did say we were going roughly in my reading order.
 
More Things Impossible: The Second Casebook of Dr. Sam Hawthorne, is the second collection of Dr. Sam Hawthorne stories released by Crippen and Landru after which they proceeded to leave us hanging for years before they released the next one. For those who missed the last post and/or have the memory span of a goldfish, Dr. Sam Hawthorne was one of the creations of Edward D. "I've Written Over 950 Short Stories" Hoch. Dr. Sam practices his trade in the New England town of Northmont, which is like Cabot Cove, if Cabot Cove had people dying in impossible manners every week instead of just dying. Yep, just about every Dr. Sam story has a locked room mystery or an impossible crime. And they're all completely solvable! You can also count them as historical mysteries, as the stories start in the 1920s and go on to the 1940s.
 
Now that I've got the recap out of the way, it's time for some locked rooms!

The Problem of the Revival Tent

A man travelling with his wife and son comes to Northmont with the extraordinary claim that his son can heal people. Too bad his son can't heal him when he's stabbed to death in his revival tent. And too bad that Dr. Sam fought with the man before his death and saw no one else in the tent when the victim died...

A great start to the collection. The usual praises about fair clueing, interesting situation, and good solutions all apply here. The murderer is well-concealed even if the solution is a little obvious. Heck, I figured that part out (partly because I was kind-of-sort-of spoiled on it, but still!)

The Problem of the Whispering House

When ghost hunter Thaddeus Sloan comes to Northmont to look into the Bryer house, it has a reputation for ghostly whispers in the front room. By the time this case is over, it will have a reputation for the man seen walking into a room with one observed exit and vanishing, leaving only his corpse behind...

I'm a little torn on this story. On one hand, the killer is well-concealed. On the other, the solution makes me iffy. It works (and to be honest, makes sense) with the location, but it's not normally a solution I prefer. Still, that's more personal opinion more than anything else. (Incidentally, I came within a hair's breadth of the killer when I first read this story. It more because SPOLIERS I was getting better at recognizing important characters END SPOLIERS than any real skill, but hey, progress!)

The Problem of the Boston Common

Dr. Sam arrives in the big city of Boston just for a medical conference. He wants nothing to do with any crime at all. Obviously, he soon gets wrapped up in the hunt for the serial killer 'Cerberus". A man who poisons his victims with curare in the Boston Common even though no one sees anything...

First off, let me say that I solved this one. I didn't get the method, but I did get the killer. And not because it was a reverse whodunit! Sadly, while the killer is hidden well, I have to question why nether the police nor the doctor helping them tumbled to the method. It's still a good story though.

The Problem of the General Store

Maggie Murphy is talking about women's rights...in 1928. Needless to say, she's not getting far. In fact, she looks like she's making things worse when she turns up unconscious inside a completely locked general store with a dead man...

Once again, the killer is well-hidden, but the solution doesn't ring as true as it normally does. This seems to be a recurring thing. Nonetheless, the solution works, it just seems too simple and the cluing felt a liiiiiittle off.

The Problem of the Courthouse Gargoyle

Aaron Flavor stands trial for killing his employer and Dr. Sam is stuck on jury duty. Fortunately(?) the trial is interrupted when the judge kneels over on the stand form poison that could not have gotten into his cup, with the word gargoyle on his lips...

A neat story. The killer is well-hidden and the solution is also good. I do have to gripe about (SPOLIERS the dying message not having much to do with the murder END SPOLIERS) but that's a personal thing (and yes, I know that the outro says that someone dies when they don't. I chalk this up to Hoch not being done with the story.)

The Problem of the Pilgrims Windmill

A black doctor has taken up a job at Northmont's new hospital, which apparently is cause for much waling and gnashing of teeth. Soon, that waling and gnashing of teeth will turn into cries to God as the Devil starts setting people on fire in the old windmill with only the victim's footprints around it...

My favorite story in the collection hands down. Another well-hidden killer is on display here, and the solution is good (if technical) but the main reason I love it is that the concept is that the Devil is going around burning people! How can you write a bad mystery when that's your idea?!

The Problem of the Gingerbread Houseboat

Dr. Sam has found love in the form of Miranda Gray. The course of true love never has run smooth though, but whoever came up with that phrase probably never thought that it would apply to four people vanishing out of a houseboat...

Sadly, this is probably the worst in the collection. Just not enough is done with this idea, and the solution is too simple. Then again, motive was a bigger question throughout the story and there is a nice bit of tension near the end, so it's certainly not all bad.

The Problem of the Pink Post Office

The Great Depression is beginning to hit, but Northmont is blissfully unaffected. That is, unless you count the banker running in with a $10,000 bond and having it vanish under everyone's noses in spite of thorough searches...

Huh, no murder this time. Anyway, this is another good story that manages to strike a balance between the culprit and the clever solution. It is a little easy though. How easy? I solved it! This story's main problem isn't the mystery but the character of Miranda Gray. After this, I find myself wondering, "Why was she here again?" (Yes, it's possible that Hoch just changed his mind about having her as a love interest, but he could have ended it better.)

The Problem of the Octagon Room

Sheriff Lens and Vera are tying the knot and Dr. Sam is looking forward to the wedding, which is supposed to take place in a octagon room. Unfortunately, Dr. Sam is the best man, making it inevitable that his Detective Curse (TM) will kick in and leave the dead body of a tramp in the looked room as a greeting for the happy couple...

This is a pretty even story. the killer is well-hid and the solution, for once, comes without any complaints, even my nitpicky ones! It should be noted that, as Mike Grost points out, (SPOLIERS that this is primarily a physical trick as opposed to the psychological tricks that are more often used END SPOLIERS) Just an interesting fact.

The Problem of the Gypsy Camp
 
Dem dirty gypsies have returned to Northmont (fine, they're a different group) and they're bringing more trouble with them as demonstrated by the man who runs into the hospital screaming about being cursed...and then kneeling over with a bullet in his heart in spite of his unbroken skin. And that's before a whole camp pulls a vanishing act...

This was the story I looking forward to this whole book. I actually save this one for last! And it... mostly lived up to expectations. It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, but it was still good (and isn't the mystery author supposed to defy your expectations?) I do have to wonder if the vanishing act was completely clued, but the rest of the story (including it's clever reversal at the end) make up for it.
 
The Problem of the Bootlegger's Car

Dr. Sam is not having a good day. First, he gets kidnapped by gangsters so he can look at their boss. Then he finds out that said boss his exaggerating his injuries in order to find a mole. Then he gets to witness of an illegal transaction. Then the seller of said illegal goods vanishes from his car...

Probably my second favorite story in the collection. It's all very tightly held together with the usual praises that make up a Hoch work. I honestly have no real complaints.

The Problem of the Tin Goose

The barnstorming pilots have come to Northmont, and with them, murder. Very extravagant murder to as their star isn't just stabbed to death in his cockpit, he's stabbed to death in his cockpit while it's in midair... 

I... don't have much to say here. This is probably the blandest story in the collection. It's good but... there's not much to say. Err...the solution seemed simple but I didn't get it anyway so maybe it isn't that simple?

The Problem of the Hunting Lodge

Dr. Sam's parents are in town and they're looking forward to seeing their  son again and his father is ready to shoot some animals. Unfortunately, Dr. Sam never told them about the Detective Curse (TM) so they're surprised when the leader on a hunt is found dead in his cabin with only the footprints of Dr. Sam's father leading to it...

A pretty good story. The solution is good and the killer well-hidden  (yes, I know I'm repeating myself), but not much was made of the whole "Dr. Sam's father looks like the killer" thing. I also have to wonder at some bizarre line the narration makes earlier in the story about Dr. Sam's mother. It has noting to do with the story and doesn't really add much so I have to wonder why it's in (It's the last line while Dr. Sam's parents are staying over.)

The Problem of the Body in the Haystack
 
There's a bear running around Northmont and a few concerned citizens, Dr. Sam among them, are ready to kill it to death. The bear however, is the least of their worries, especially when a dead body turns up on top of a tarp-covered haystack, one that was nailed down earlier...
 
This is a good one. The premise is neat and the solution is simple, yet almost bound to give you the slip. Of course, it has to be simpler than normal, otherwise we might have a hard time believing that Sheriff Lens solved it first! (Again, I kid. I like Sheriff Lens.)
 
The Problem of Santa's Lighthouse
 
Dr. Sam is travelling and notices an advertisement for Santa's Lighthouse... and sees that it originally read Satan's Lighthouse. His investigation into this drags him into a murder committed when no one was near the victim and into a direct confrontation with some vicious gangsters...
 
This...wasn't the best story to end on. It's merely okay with both the murderer and the solution being a little to obvious. (though this might be because of the way other reviews and summaries I read beforehand discussed this story.) It's decent, but not much else.
 
Well, there's our second round of Dr. Sam. All in all, this could have been better. The stories are still top-notch, but they seem to have more flaws than the ones in the last collection, mainly in regard to solutions.
 
Despite these flaws, this collection in more than worthy of your time. I give it a 7.5 out of 10. Next time, either a lost Ellery Queen novel, or another locked room anthology. Be sure to comment! But first, a question. Should I continue doing short story collections? I've got about five or six more before we start hitting any novels, and I want to know if you all would mind that. If not, I have a few Monk novels I can insert in. Thanks for reading and thank you Ho-ling for linking me (I'd do the same if I knew how) on your blog! It's official, I'm popular!
 
(Also, I know I said I would look at Dr. Sam's justice bending here, but that will probably be a separate post.)