Thursday, January 13, 2011

The last book I finished is The Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr.

Carr is a master of a form that no longer really exists, the pure puzzle mystery.  These books are usually set amongst the upper class, and involve locked rooms or other factors that make a crime seem impossible.  The game is for the author to present the facts that led to the crime being possible, but to not have the reader guess the solution before it is revealed. 

Modern mysteries have moved on to a more character or situation based approach, where the reader enjoys the ride but is not expecting a "fair game" at the same time.

This book is fairly typical of the type, involving switched identities, mad uncles, poison and a duel to the death.  It even goes so far as to add asides from the author at various points to explain that certain solutions are not correct, the "nine wrong answers" of the title.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A few days ago I finished Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton.

Villjamur is a city on a freezing world.  It's never clear if this is actually a far future version of our world, where the sun is slowly dying, or a pure fantasy world.  In any case, the city is facing an upcoming ice age and is trying to prepare.  At the same time, parts of the political structure are trying to generate a coup, while others are trying to find a way of escape.  By the end, a lot of action has taken place but not many questions are answered, something probably left to the sequels.

It's a well written new world, with decent characterizations and an interesting plot.  Hopefully it won't develop into an overblown, endless series, but keep focus and resolve the story in a few books.