ALL BUT IMPOSSIBLE! by Edward D.--Ed. Hoch


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An Anthology of Locked Room & Impossible Crime Stories by Members of the Mystery Writers of America""--20 pieces, only one newly published, which fairly represent this highly limited genre. The Locked-Room King--John Dickson Carr--leads off, of course, with one of the early Henri Bencolin stories recently resurrected in The Door to Doom (1980); and there's also Clayton Rawson's much-anthologized ""From Another World"" (1948), as well as the original short-story version of Helen McCloy's justifiably famous locked-room novel, Through a Glass, Darkly. Few of the other contributions are on the Carr/Rawson/McCloy level, however. There's a farfetched period sketch about a disappearing body from Bill Pronzini; a routine train-robbery puzzle from Ellery Queen; a much-too-long disappearing van story (with a clichÉ solution) by Hugh Pentecost; and similarly uninspired tricks from Jon L. Breen, John F. Suter, editor Hoch, and Julian Symons. Jack Ritchie does contribute a bit of much-needed charm, and Lillian de la Torre's Dr. Johnson tale is in the classic locked-room tradition. But, aside from two contributions which are more sf than mystery (Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson), the most distinctive work here is from Peter Godfrey--a dubiously motivated but otherwise grippingly grim little gem. And top honors for sheer plot (the essence of the genre, after all) go to. . . the very young Georges Simenon--for a blessedly brief story with a memorable medical twist. Solid reading for mystery-puzzle fans--but, perhaps inevitably, awfully short on style, character, and atmosphere.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1981
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin