The Seven Wonders of Crime by Paul Halter (1997)

A is for Adrian set alight (and Achilles Stock, narrator).

B is for Bellew shot with a bolt (and aesthete Burns, Owen).

C is for connoisseur’s collection of crazy crimes.

Someone is constructing a series of murders which relate to each of the seven ancient wonders of the world, warning the police beforehand each time with a freshly painted cryptic message. Is it someone who has taken a lady’s challenge to kill to prove their love for her to heart? Or is there another reason why this serial killer has embarked on this most singular spree of violence?

The main problem with this book is that the method behind each murder is kept for the end (although in some ways this is necessary) and it would have been good if this could have been spaced out à la The Big Four.

However I enjoyed each of the solutions, particularly that of the fourth murder, and I was most definitely satisfied overall. As with The Invisible Circle some suspension of disbelief is required, but you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. If as Brad commented  these are “two of the worst Paul Halter titles around” then I am definitely looking forward to getting to grips with his best.

What Else I’ve Been Reading Recently

Calamity Town by Ellery Queen – The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen! Very different from the pure puzzle oriented plots of the Nationality Object Mysteries that I have read so far, but that is no bad thing. Ellery has left the city and the Inspector to spend some time writing a novel in the small town of Wrightsville. He soon finds that a murder might be in the offing but try as he might he can’t prevent a tragedy from occurring. The identity of the murderer is no huge surprise but the reasons why the protagonists acted as they did is very illuminating. And there is a lovely final line that rounds the whole thing off deliciously.

3 thoughts on “The Seven Wonders of Crime by Paul Halter (1997)”

  1. I do have to wonder why you would select these two particular Halter titles to start off with, John. It’s not like that “suspension of disbelief” feeling won’t haunt some of the other tales, but there are much better options before you. The other bit of wonderment is that you would make the Halter the main focus of this post and relegate a classic like Calamity Town to an addendum. Back up, reverse!!!!! 🙂

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    1. I did enjoy Calamity Town but I think classic status depends on what you’ve read before you read this. The Who and How I’ve seen before – but the Why was very powerfully specific to this particular scenario. I did like how old very logical Ellery comes through once he has the key piece of information – one that he didn’t know existed.

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      1. The Who and How are not very mysterious, I agree! I figured them out at a tender age. I think the most extraordinary thing about the book is the transformation of Ellery himself and of his world, from puzzle grid to an actual human existence. For those of us who had been weaned on the first and second period Queens, it was quite a change! That, and the sense of tragedy that permeates this and all the Wrightsville novels. It’s like each case puts another nail in the coffin of the “idyllic” American village of yore.

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