(Give Me That) OLD-TIME DETECTION. Summer 2020. Issue #54. Editor: Arthur Vidro. Old-Time Detection Special Interest Group of American Mensa, Ltd. 36 pages (including covers). Cover image: Unusual Suspects.

   The latest issue of OLD-TIME DETECTION (OTD) continues to maintain the high quality it has always enjoyed. Editor Arthur Vidro’s choices of material are, as usual, excellent; the world of classic detective fiction, long neglected, gets a new lease on life with every number.

   Indeed, nothing says “classic detective fiction” like commentary from Edward D. Hoch, an expert on the subject as well as a shining example of how to write it. Vidro reproduces two introductions by Hoch to mystery story collections.

   Ed Hoch’s fiction output is the envy of many writers, almost always matching quantity with quality. In his review of Crippen & Landru’s latest themed collection of Hoch’s stories, Hoch’s Ladies, Michael Dirda says it well: “His fair-play stories emphasize a clean, uncluttered narrative line, just a handful of characters, and solutions that are logical and satisfying. Each one sparks joy.”

   Next we have a valuable history lesson by Dr. John Curran concerning the earliest periods of the genre, “‘landmark’ titles in the development of crime fiction between 1841 and the dawn, eighty years later, of the Golden Age,” especially as reflected in the publications of the Collins Crime Club.

   Following Dr. Curran is a collection of perceptive reviews by Charles Shibuk of some pretty obscure crime fiction titles; for instance, have you ever heard of Brian Flynn’s The Orange Axe (“highly readable, steadily engrossing, well-plotted, and very deceptively clued”) or James Ronald’s Murder in the Family (“an absolute pleasure to read from first page to last”)?

   Cornell Woolrich was definitely not ignored by Hollywood, as Francis M. Nevins shows us in his continuing series of articles about cinema adaptations. The year 1947 was a rich one for films derived from Woolrich’s works — Fall Guy, The Guilty, and Fear in the Night — but, as Nevins indicates, the quality of these movies is highly variable.

   William Brittain is a detective fiction author who has been undeservedly “forgotten” of late, but a reprinting of one his stories (“The Second Sign in the Melon Patch”, EQMM, January 1969) shows why he should be remembered: “She wondered if anyone in Brackton held anything but the highest opinion of her would-be murderer.”

   Charles Shibuk returns with concise reviews of (then) recently reprinted books by John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, Anthony Dekker, Ngaio Marsh, Ellery Queen, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Josephine Tey.

   Dr. John Curran also returns. The world’s leading expert on Agatha Christie tips us off as to developments in Christieworld: a new short story collection, the closure of the long-running play The Mousetrap as well as the cancellation of the in-person Agatha Christie Festival and uncertainty about the release date for Kenneth Branagh’s version of Death on the Nile due to the beerbug, the publication of a new non-fiction book focusing on Hercule Poirot, and a radio play version of a previously unperformed non-criminous production by Dame Agatha dating from nearly a century ago.

   This is followed by a collection of smart reviews by Jon L. Breen (The Glass Highway by Loren D. Estleman), Amnon Kabatchnik (The Man in the Shadows by Carroll John Daily), Les Blatt (The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers), Ruth Ordivar (The World’s Fair Murders by John Ashenhurst), Arthur Vidro (The Kettle Mill Mystery by Inez Oellrichs), and Thor Dirravu (The Ten Faces of Cornell Woolrich, a collection).

   Next we have Martin Edwards’s foreword to Joseph Goodrich’s collection of essays entitled Unusual Suspects (2020), which, Edwards is delighted to relate, “benefits from a quirky unpredictability and from being a mine of intriguing nuggets of information.”

   Rounding out this issue are the readers’ reactions and a puzzle page, the latter a snap only if you’re thoroughly familiar with the life and career of Hercule Poirot.

   Altogether this is a most satisfying issue of OLD-TIME DETECTION.

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