The Realm of the Impossible edited by John Pugmire and Brian Skupin

26 tales of impossibilities from over 20 countries plus 12 real-life impossibilities – there’s a lot to like in this 430 page anthology. Here are my highlights:

Jacob’s Ladder by Paul Halter – a man dies from wounds consistent with falling from a great height but from where did he fall? I enjoyed the Biblical connection to both the problem and the solution.

The Case of the Horizontal Trajectory by Joseph Skorvecky – the equations for the parabolic trajectory, which were once very familiar to me, make an appearance, although the policeman has to get his daughter to work them out for him. This story is worth it for the last line alone.

House Call (taken from The Mohicans of Paris) by Alexandre Dumas père – a nice piece of detection, especially experimenting with a ladder, from an author best-known for adventure romances such as “The Three Musketeers”.

The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson – a sci-fi mystery where the solution is in keeping with and dependent on the setting.

The Miracle of Christmas Eve by Szu-Yen Lin – a charming tale of the magic of Santa Claus and the love that a father has for his son.

The “Impossible” Impossible Crime by Edward D. Hoch – Charles and Henry are living in the middle of nowhere so when one of them is shot, the other must be the murderer, surely?

The Locked Tomb Mystery by Elizabeth Peters – utilises the historical setting of Ancient Egypt really well.

Deadfall by Samuel W. Taylor – another two men stranded in the middle of nowhere by an unfortunate accident whose friendship quickly unravels. I found this quite unsettling.

The Lure of the Green Door by Rintaro Norizuki – a house full of rare books, a link to a strange H. G. Wells story and an as yet unfulfilled prophecy of a man who killed himself in a locked room – or did he? An absolute gem.

The Witch Doctor’s Revenge by Jochen Füseler – thirteen years ago a witch doctor swore vengeance on the two men he held responsible for his execution – specifically that thirteen years later they would die in the same way that he did and then vanish into thin air and never be seen again. So what is Heinrich Faust supposed to do when the curse is fulfilled? The reason why everything falls out as it does is excellent -as is the inclusion of the German compound noun “Polizeihauptwachtmeisteranwärter”.

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