Cherchez les Francais

The Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October is one of the largest and  most prestigious in the world, covered on a daily basis by the top publishing magazines, including Publishers Weekly. PW’s October 12 Frankfurt Show Daily contained an excellent review of the crime scene in France, both classic and contemporary, Cherchez les Francais by Lenny Picker. 2017_10_12 Frankfurt Daily

I wasn’t altogether unhappy that page 1 was almost entirely dedicated to LRI’s classic and Paul Halter offerings, but all kidding aside, there’s some really good stuff here about today’s writers. In fact, as a result of the article, I ordered The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas, one of France’s best-selling authors (authoress, actually).

Recommended reading.

‘Death in the House of Rain’ now available

The paperback became available today and the ebook will follow shortly. PW praised its tautness and freshness and accorded the author an interview. There is a fascinating Foreword which foretells the huge potential of Chinese/Taiwanese impossible crime literature

2017_9_25 PW SZL Interview


The Little Imprint That Could…

… (to steal a slogan from Thomas the Tank Engine)

I was enormously flattered for my little one-man-band to be featured alongside The British Library, Harper Collins, Pushkin Vertigo, Rue Morgue Press and others, in Martin Edwards’ great article “A New Golden Age for Crime Classics?” … particularly since Death in the Dark (for which Martin wrote the Introduction) got more coverage than any other! Apologies for the rather gritty pdf. When I can get hold of a soft copy in glorious Technicolor, I’ll post it.

2017 MS 151 Golden Age

Two Christianna Brand short stories

A couple of years back, my friend Tony Medawar, himself a noted locked room expert, kindly gave  me copies of two short stories by Christianna Brand, one of the greatest of the Golden Age authors. (Her Death of Jezebel is one of my top 10). They had only ever been published in The Daily Sketch, a British newspaper which folded fifty years ago.

My co-editor, Brian Skupin, and I included one of them, “Cyanide in the Sun”, featuring the first use of an ingenious impossible crime method, in our anthology The Realm of the Impossible.

I was pleased to see that EQMM published the other story, “Bank Holiday Murder” in their September/October issue. Apparently Tony is working with a UK publisher on a book of Brand stories to come out next year. I’m sure it will be well worth the read.

EQMM Podcast: Paul Halter’s “The Wolf of Fenrir”

EQMM contacted me a few months ago about selecting and reading a Paul Halter short story as their next podcast. I drew up a short list and tried to rehearse by recording a couple of them on my home computer. It was much harder than I’d expected (particularly using the appropriate inflections to move the story along.)

The results were a total disaster, partly because I’d been having ENT problems, so I told EQMM I could only do a few introductory sentences, and somebody more professional would have to read the story. With Paul’s approval, I suggested “The Wolf of Fenrir”, and went to EQMM’s premises to record the introduction a few weeks later. Here’s the full podcast, with EQMM Associate Editor Jackie Sherbow reading the story:

The only blight was my intro. And no, I wasn’t inebriated! Jackie had asked me to speak slowly, and boy, did I obey orders. But the story itself is terrific and Jackie did a great job, so enjoy!

Honkaku meets Grand Guignol

Death in the House of Rain, by young Taiwanese author Szu-Yen Lin, is a gruesome and fiendishly clever novel about a series of impossible crimes in a strange house built to resemble a 3-D version of the Chinese character for rain. Publishers Weekly not only gave it a starred review:                                                   . . . they plan to publish an interview with the author in the 9/25/2017 issue. Watch this space.

Lunch with the Maestro of Honkaku

As many readers of detective fiction know by now, Soji Shimada (western version of his name) was instrumental in the revival of honkaku, the Japanese equivalent of fair-play Golden age writing, starting in the early 1980s. LRI has published three novels and a short story collection in this vein and another novel is underway (for which he has already written the introduction!)

I feel very fortunate to count him among my friends; there is a not a kinder or more modest individual on the planet, even though his The Tokyo Zodiac Murders is widely regarded as an epic of the genre, and there have been multiple screen and TV adaptations of his works. So it was a great pleasure for my wife Helen and I to have lunch with Soji, his wife Masae and his daughter Yuko during their recent trip to New York. The three lovely and gifted ladies are, from left to right, Masae, Yuko and Helen. No prizes for guessing which of the men is Soji.

I presented Soji with a copy of the anthology The Realm of the Impossible, in which his own story, “The Locked Room of P.”–translated by Yuko–appears. He was pleased to see it was the last story in the book, which in Japan is reserved for the best.


Back on line–after a week

To those of you who wondered what had happened to and, it’s now safe to go back on line…at least for now.

Without boring you with the details, all the problems were caused by the web-hoster I chose,, who shut me down without warning three times, the third time for a week. Alas, I’m stuck with them for 3 years, so there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again.

The Realm of the Impossible

I am delighted to announce that the international short story anthology I have been working on for a long time, together with my friend, consultant editor of LRI, and co-editor of Mystery Scene magazine, Brian Skupin, has finally been published!

Publishers Weekly, in its starred review, writes: “…a landmark anthology, which establishes that the crafting of brilliant short impossible crime fiction is not an exclusively Anglo-American endeavor.”

In his Foreword, Otto Penzler writes: “The range of authors collected in this surprising and welcome volume, and the diversity of their backgrounds, is a tribute to the detective skills of the editors, who have somehow unearthed a cornucopia of virtually unknown stories that deserve the attention they will now receive. It is… well… impossible to applaud loudly enough…”

Here is a groundbreaking collection of 26 impossible crime stories from over 20 countries, demonstrating the global reach of this most fiendishly ingenious type of tale. Several stories appear here for the first time, many have never been anthologized, and a few classics are included.

Also included are 12 short anecdotes of real-life impossibilities: How can a man locked in his room without alcohol get drunk every night? How can heavy stone coffins in a sealed crypt be moved? How can hundreds of rare French books be stolen from an ancient library? These are just a few of the actual impossibilities that are explained in The Realm of the Impossible.

And, at a mere $19.99 for nearly forty stories from more than 20 countries, it would be a crime not to buy it. . . (I had to get that in before anyone else.)

P.S. There will not be a Kindle edition.