‘The Halfway House,’ directed by Basil Dearden

Movie, 1944 A good looking, well-paced hodgepodge of a film. Ostensibly, this is a mystery with a supernatural twist, although there’s plenty of romance, dashes of family saga, comedy and a few odd scenes, which don’t seem to add much to the plot. The film ploughs in a huge chunk of propaganda in at the end, just for good measure. For all this, the positive … Continue reading ‘The Halfway House,’ directed by Basil Dearden

‘Recoil,’ directed by John Gilling

Movie, 1953 A bit of a plodding, un-mysterious mystery, in which tension is suggested, then not really delivered. There are a few glimpses of period London and some nice atmospheric touches, but save for a spirited performance by the female lead, the acting and characterisations all seem a little flat. The plot doesn’t help – it’s fine, but it’s rather slim and a little predictable. … Continue reading ‘Recoil,’ directed by John Gilling

“The Voice of Merrill,” directed by John Gilling

Movie, 1952 Effective and well-paced mystery, with noir sentiments, if not stylings, and a love triangle which spins and dramatises the lives of the film’s main protagonists, after the murder of an acquaintance. Some great acting from Valerie Hobson and James Robertson Justice brings some tension along the way, so that even if some of the other acting and the settings are a little down … Continue reading “The Voice of Merrill,” directed by John Gilling

“The Man on the Eiffel Tower,” directed by Burgess Meredith

Movie, 1950 A curious film for a number of reasons – partly the washed-out colour from a weird process and film stock, and partly through the relative lack of suspense and mystery in what feels like it should be a suspenseful and mysterious film, featuring Simenon’s Inspector Maigret. The result is far from unworthy, however; we have a dreamy set of characters and locations, culminating … Continue reading “The Man on the Eiffel Tower,” directed by Burgess Meredith

‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

Movie, 1947 Tidy, well-plotted and paced mystery in which a lodger in a house full of oddbeats is accused of murder and struggles, both with PTSD and a doubt over whether or not he actually could have committed the crime in question. While there’s nothing leaping out from the film as being exceptional, and while the received pronunciation can be a little distracting at times, … Continue reading ‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

Novel, 1992 Old-fashioned, but very effective ghost story, written in an almost ‘period tense,’ with a passed-on text from a mysterious protagonist and an array of phantom children, spooky characters, snowfall, spectres and some quite wonderful suspense. A book which may demand that its reader get in the mood and give themselves over to the generic thrills on show. Those who enjoy ghost stories should … Continue reading ‘The Mist in the Mirror,’ by Susan Hill

‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1945 Crime mystery, set in the last knockings of World War Two, involving a tricky plot of art theft, kidnapping and a cast of fairly diverse and dastardly characters. London has a downbeat, authentic feel to it, with characters raising pigs and living in bombsites, so giving an example of how things are somewhat grim, but treated with a matter-of-fact humour. Albert Campion is … Continue reading ‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

“The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

Movie, 1955 Solid, well-told story of a premonition of a plane crash and the gloomy unfolding of all the circumstances which rather suggest a lead up to tragedy. While this all feels very stiff upper-lip, there are some interesting characters and enough British actors to spot and to keep most people happy. The ending, it’s true, feels rushed and entirely underdone, but this is an … Continue reading “The Night My Number Came Up,” directed by Leslie Norman

“Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

Novel, 1927 Murder mystery which hinges round a change in the inheritance laws, and the efforts of Lord Peter Wimsey to solve it, and to keep his senses of wonder and vanity in check. This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading “Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers