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I’m a huge fan of Jon L. Breen’s recap of the best crime and mystery novels of 2009. Breen displays a magisterial command over the genre’s canon, and, along the way, he helps less knowledgeable readers such as myself sort out the wheat from the chaff:

Few writers today attempt the kind of multilayered puzzle common in the Golden Age of Detection of the 1920s and 1930s. Writers of cozies may like to be compared to Agatha Christie, but they rarely even try to duplicate her deftly deceptive plotting. Gyles Brandreth’s Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile , the third in a series, rather unpromisingly follows an overworked current trend in making a historical figure into a fictional sleuth. But it does go against the contemporary grain in challenging the reader with impossible murders and fairly given clues, all of which lead to a final summation of which Hercule Poirot or Ellery Queen might have been proud.

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