Mystery Books for Sale

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by Kate Jackson, editor
The British Library, November 2018
158 pages
$7.99 GPB
ISBN: 0712352963

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Well, the plot is incoherent, there are far too many characters who appear and disappear apparently randomly, no one seems to be in charge of the investigation, there's no sense of place, and you're supposed to write all over some of the pages...

What you have 107 puzzles (technically more as many have several parts), mostly linked to the British Library Crime Classics series. I was hoping that the puzzles would be short mysteries where you're supposed to only think about the solution for a minute, or something like 'The Baffle Book' from the 1930's, but it's actually a collection of word games and quizzes connected to the British Library Crime Classics series.

Note - unless specifically stated 'book' and 'author' in this list refer to a book or author published in the BLCC series.

Add a Letter - Given a word and a clue, add a letter to the word. The extra letters form the name of an author (x9);

Add the Vowels - ten titles with the vowels missing (x2);

Authors Anagrams - seven anagrams of authors (x2);

Cross Out - remove all the repeated letters from a square, and use the remaining letters to make an authors name (x6);

Crossword - standard crossword, with the addition that highlighted squares give the name of an author (x10);

Distorted Covers - examine a book cover that has been blurred or swirled digitally, then name the title (x9);

Kriss Kross - variation on a crossword where you have to fit a collection of words into a grid, then use highlighted letters to make an authors name (x9);

Location, Location, Location - link five locations to the BLCC book that takes place there (x2);

Odd One Out - five groups of four book titles; three of each group have something in common. Work out which one is not like the others (x6)

Path Finder Puzzle - similar to a Word Search at first glance, but with a list of words which follow each other (x5)

Snapshot Covers - guess the titles of five books by examining details of the covers (x6);

Spot the Difference - spot the differences between two versions of a book cover (x9);

Spot the Titles - from a word cloud find fifteen titles, including five by Christie and two by Sayers (x3);

Who am I? - link five facts to five authors (x3);

Who Was Killed? - link five victims to the Agatha Christie novel in which they died (x3);

Word Search - standard word search, with words relating to a particular book (x11);

Word Wheel - standard 'how many words can you make from these eight letters' puzzle, with an author's name to find as well (x7);

Whether this is for you is very dependent on what sort of puzzles you like. I'm fairly sure that doing a Word Search for words related to Alan Melville's 'Death of Anton' would probably put me off reading the book, but that's because I detest Word Searches; the Path Finders are much less annoying. The two main problems I can see with this collection of puzzles are, oddly enough, results of the quality of its production. It's a small volume, 100mm x 160mm x 12mm, with stiff covers, proper binding, and generous margins. This results in crosswords with squares only 4mm to squeeze a letter into, which is a little too compact for some. There's also the completely illogical feeling that it's wrong to scribble inside a such a nicely produced book, even if that scribbling is the entire point of the volume.

THE POCKET DETECTIVE will fit nicely into a Christmas stocking, and will suit anyone who is familiar with the plots, authors, titles, publication dates and covers of all the British Library Crime Classics series.

Rik Shepherd has been a computer programmer and a web accessibility consultant. He lives in the north West of England and is mildly surprised to have just realised he's been reading crime fiction for 45 years.

Reviewed by Rik Shepherd, November 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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