The second collection of the cases of Dr Sam Hawthorne is a significant step-up from the first. That was a high quality set of locked room murders and impossible crimes, but as it detailed the first stories in the series, there was a certain roughness to the stories, which settled down towards the end.
More Things Impossible details the next fifteen of Sam’s cases, and the tone and quality is much more consistently excellent.
Each story is a perfect example of the fair-play mystery. Contained within less than twenty pages, you get the set-up, the clues and the solution to some excellent mysteries without it feeling at all rushed. I’ve said before that Hoch was the master of the short story mystery, and this book collects what I consider to be some of his finest work. He seems to have made a point of devising situations and/or solutions that are new, rather than rehashing old locked room tricks, and while a couple of the solutions are possibly a little contrived, there’s nothing of the standard of some of Carr’s machinations – the gadget involved in the solution of Fatal Descent springs to mind.
Highlights of this collection for me are The Problem of the Revival Tent – a man is stabbed to death in the middle of an empty circus tent with Sam himself being the only suspect; The Problem of the General Store – a twist on The Judas Window involving shotguns; The Problem of the Gypsy Camp – a man dies of a heart attack, only a bullet is found inside his heart during the autopsy and The Problem of the Tin Goose – a barnstorming plane lands safely only for the pilot to be found dead inside the locked cockpit.
I’ve read all of the stories that are in the next collection, but I hope Crippen and Landru hurry the next volume out anyway, as I’ll certainly be granting it pride of place on my shelf. This is an excellent series, and I heartily recommend it to any amateur sleuth.