GIGI PANDIAN “The Locked Room Library.” Published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, July/August 2021.

   I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that the stories EQMM has been publishing over the past few years have become more and more straight crime-oriented than it was in its early days, when detective fiction was the rule. This current issue suggests that the editors are well aware of the fact as well. As stated in the introduction to this, the lead story, this issue is dedicated to the classical mystery, and to my mind, it’s about time, too.

   Even though this is an “impossible” crime, if not an out-and-out locked room mystery, it does take place in an about-to-open privately owned Locked Room Library, where fans of the traditional mysteries of the 30s and 40s can come and check out books difficult to find anywhere else.

   Someone is trying to sabotage the effort, however, and stolen from a well-secured glass case is a letter from John Dickson Carr to Frederic Dannay (co-author of the Ellery Queen books) stating he had written an alternate ending to The Burning Court, perhaps without the quasi-supernatural conclusion it was published with.

   This sounds better than it reads, I’m sorry to say. The writing is lackluster, the characters not at all memorable, and worse, there’s a ghost involved, or so the thief tries to make everyone believe. Nor does the thief’s motive seem strong enough to for him/her to go to all this amount of trouble.

   While it’s good to see someone writing stories like this, I don’t this is the one to convert anyone to the traditional type of puzzle story, if they’re not already so inclined.