Blind Drifts – Clyde Clason (1937)

I went on a bit of a Clyde Clason buying spree after enjoying The Man from Tibet.  Admittedly, it might have been a b-grade mystery, but it had enough unique touches to keep my interest throughout, and opened with a stellar story-within-a-story that completely won me over.  I finally return to Clason with his third novel, which was published a year before The Man from Tibet.  I picked this one because it takes place in a Colorado gold mine.  A mine is always a fun setting for a story, and something that you don’t see too often in the Golden Age; The Owner Lies Dead being the exception that comes to mind, although hopefully someone posts a few more examples.

It was the Colorado setting that struck me too.  I’m biased in my preference for mysteries set in England, in part because 99% of US mysteries from the Golden Age seem to be set in New York City, and there are a set of tropes that you seem to get with The Big Apple.  Anthony Boucher is an obvious exception, with his output taking place in the San Francisco bay area, and I suppose that Ellery Queen stretched his legs and headed out to Hollywood.  US settings outside of that are few and far between (I realize you’ll correct me).  There’s late-era John Dickson Carr exploring the south – although those books were well past his prime – and I supposed Hugh Holman set his stories in South Carolina.  But Colorado?  I can’t really think of another Golden Age set in Colorado.  Yeah, you could interpret The Owner Lies Dead as taking place in Genessee right outside of Denver, but I had the sense while reading it that it was supposed to take place somewhere on the east coast.

Continue reading “Blind Drifts – Clyde Clason (1937)”

The Man From Tibet – Clyde Clason (1938)

I’m a sucker for a story within a story.  Think the likes of the breathless French Revolution flashback midway through John Dickson Carr’s The Red Widow Murders, or the sea captain’s bizarre yarn in Anthony Boucher’s The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars.  When executed well, these miniature tales sweep you right out of the core story and leave you with the drunken feeling of “wait, what book am I reading?”  It’s like you get an extra short story for free along with the novel.

Clyde Clason’s The Man From Tibet starts off with an absolute whopper of a story within a story; a 20 page account of a westerner’s perilous journey into Tibet, which at the time was completely closed off from the outside world.  I found myself so absorbed in the tale that I simply didn’t want it to end.  The fact that I had sought out The Man From Tibet for the locked room murder that it offered was the furthest thing from my mind.  And thus I became enamored with Clyde Clason.

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