One of the genres I most enjoy is the locked room mystery and its broader implementation as the "impossible crime" story. All of Clyde B. Clason's works fall into that sphere. So do most of the works of John Dickson Carr, the acknowledged master of the field. Many other mystery authors, from the Golden Age and beyond, have written in the genre, with varying degrees of success.
So it's important, I think, to recognize that there are still authors writing today who specialize in locked room detective stories. Many of them, unfortunately, do not write in English, and translations are not always easy to find.
Enter translator John Pugmire, whom I mentioned earlier on this blog for his terrific work translating the contemporary French locked-room mystery author, Paul Halter. Pugmire now has begun a website devoted to the genre, called Locked Room International. I like the way he defines the genre:
"What is a locked room mystery? It is ideally a mystery which follows Golden Age Rules about providing fair clues to the reader and also poses the question: how was it done? A "locked room" is a special case of the more general "impossible crime," in which one or more victims are discovered dead in what appear to be impossible circumstances (hermetically sealed room, no footprints in the snow, inaccessible site, etc.) It makes no pretense to be probable, no attempt to analyze the human condition, and no effort to probe the detective's foibles. Its purpose is purely and simply to baffle while entertaining. It challenges the mind, not the heart or the spirit."
The site is still pretty basic, and we are promised additions and improvements as it is developed. It's not primarily a blog. Locked Room International is involved in publishing (as print-on-demand and/or e-book editions) good, English-language translations of locked-room masterpieces by Paul Halter and others; there are hints that we may eventually see translated versions from a modern Japanese master of the form.
The site is well worth a visit from anyone interested in the genre. I have more Halter books in my ever-massive "To Be Read" pile, and I'm looking forward to them and other LRI books.
Hat tip to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction mail group on Yahoo, which alerted me to the existence of this new LRI website.