Definitive collection of short works by the most curious—that’s right—of all Golden Age mystery-mongers.
For sheer resourcefulness, no one—Christie, Queen, Sayers, Carr—has ever topped psychologist King (1895–1963), whose Obelists Fly High (1935) is perhaps the most clever detective story ever written. Yet he is little-known in America, largely because his extraordinary skill in plotting is ballasted by colorless writing and wooden characterization. This collection begins with the eight stories in The Curious Mr. Tarrant (UK, 1935; US, 1977!), including some of the most challenging impossible crimes—a priceless codex is stolen from a closely guarded museum, headless corpses appear along a heavily patrolled stretch of a New Jersey highway, a family abandons a yacht in perfect running order for no apparent reason—in the genre, all ebulliently resolved by socialite dilettante Trevis Tarrant. To these are added three unreprinted later stories—a businesslike escape from a guarded rooftop crime scene, an odd Sherlock Holmes pastiche about a fatal professional rivalry in which Tarrant talks and acts exactly like Holmes, and, best of all, a series of lightning armchair deductions about the baffling disappearance of a Hollywood ingenue—and a hitherto unpublished lesser thunderbolt concerning an Egyptian talisman with uncanny powers.
An indispensable addition to any serious mystery library, and a test case for Golden Age fans who value fiendish ingenuity above all.