Reviews

‘absorbing second mystery . . . stunning resolution.’ [Stage Fright]

- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

I didn’t see that coming!

‘I’ve read so many crime novels that I’m rarely surprised by plot twists or startling solutions. So I was pretty sure that I knew where things were heading when I recently read Fredric Brown’s The Far Cry – but he totally pulled the wool over my eyes. What an ending! So, fellow fans of GA fiction, which are the novels that have left YOU open-mouthed? No spoilers, please . . .’

I posted this on the Facebook page of the Golden Age Detection group and got some very interesting responses – and a list of books to be added to the TBR pile.

The subject of shocking plot twists seemed worth exploring further here. I am not talking simply about failing to guess whodunit. I mean the kind of twist that takes your breath away, and yet in retrospect makes perfect sense. Recently with a couple of novels famed for their plot twist, I guessed correctly in the first chapter and that’s always a disappointment. So it’s not often that a writer pulls the rug from under my feet and I love it when they do.

Sarah Waters’s extraordinary novel, Fingersmith, did that to me. Hats off to her. Lawrence Block did it too with Out on the Cutting Edge. In GA fiction the end of John Dickson Carr’s The Burning Court left me open-mouthed.

Other suggestions from my Facebook friends included Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, Thomas H Cook’s The Instruments of Night and Red Leaves, Elizabeth Daly’s The Book of the Dead and Robert Barnard’s Death of an Old Goat.

Further contributions are very welcome.  Over to you!

 

PS The Golden Age Detection group is friendly and lively. If you are not already a member, do come and join us.

6 Comments

  1. Margot Kinberg
    November 3, 2018

    Those ‘twist’ endingsa really can take your breath away,Christine, can’t they? I remember the first time I read Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, that’s how I felt. She did that one brilliantly, I thought.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      November 3, 2018

      Yes, Margot, quite brilliant! There is really no-one quite like her. I wish I hadn’t read them all . . .

      Reply
  2. tracybham
    November 3, 2018

    I just recently read Elizabeth Daly’s The Book of the Dead and it does have a shocker ending. I haven’t read Death of an Old Goat in a long time, and I have forgotten the ending, and I love Barnard’s writing … so I should reread it. I hope to read A Kiss Before Dying in the next few months.

    A very interesting post and I will look out for a copy of The Far Cry. Except for a few short stories I have not read anything by Fredric Brown.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      November 3, 2018

      Good to hear from you, Tracy. Must read The Book of the Dead! Fredric Brown wrote some wonderful things: The Night of the Jabberwock is one of my favourite crime novels.

      Reply
  3. Susan D
    November 6, 2018

    But I never want to be told there’s a “shocking twist at the end” because that just signals it coming from the start. So now I can’t have the satisfaction of “wow, I didn’t see THAT coming. ” Because I did.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      November 7, 2018

      Yes, I know what you mean. Though in the case of The Far Cry I knew that there was ‘a shocking twist’, but I still sat there open-mouthed at the end!

      Reply

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