Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

This is one of those detective stories that suffers from one of the worst sort of problems a mystery can face: an obvious solution. Then again, if done right that can still be a positive because all detective fiction readers want to be able to figure out the mystery for themselves before the sleuth does. Here, it is pretty apparent from the start. If you think about the initial murder enough it is the only possible way things could have gone and every single clue revealed along the way serves to confirm it.

Fortunately, the solution is not the only reason to read good mystery writing, and Fowler is a good writer. Here he (as always) gives the reader a lot to think about in today’s society. Particularly the way we have turned our natural inclination to worship towards making monsters into heroes. Everyone from the conspiracy theorists’ favorites like Jack the Ripper to history buffs’ Robin Hood to modern geeks’ super heroes like Batman are exposed in the murderous villain’s creation of the Highwayman. Along the way Bryant and May speculate on the growing rift between the generations and finally get around to solving an old case that we have heard whispered about in other books.

Ultimately this book is a bit of light entertainment—not so much a guilty pleasure—but one that will stretch your brain and stimulate your questioning mind in the best way.

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