Friday, April 18, 2014

The Locked Room Mystery Mystery by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde
No, that isn't a typo in the heading. Jasper Fforde is a novelist based in Swindon, UK. He has written a number of fantasy/crime books and is known for breaking the fourth wall within his stories. The Locked Room Mystery Mystery is no exception to this, and follows D.I. Jack Spratt as he tries to determine who murdered the victim within a locked library.

The unique aspect of this short story is the way Fforde parodies the usual mystery tropes. The victim, "Locked Room Mystery", has been murdered and the suspects, "Red Herring", "Unshakeable Alibi", "Cryptic Final Message", "Least Likely Suspect", "Overlooked Clue", and "Flashback", all adhere to their respective conventions. Each are examined in turn as Spratt works his way through the events leading to the crime.

The Locked Room Mystery Mystery


The short story is available for free on TheGuardian.com. If you want to read on your Kindle you can download it here (send to Kindle instructions here).

Author: Jasper Fforde
Date: 2007
Word Count: 1,500 (about 6 pages)

As a humerous short story I quite enjoyed The Locked Room Mystery Mystery. It has a few subtle (and not so subtle) nods to genre staples that come across like a Cluedo game for mystery fans. While only a few pages long the tale manages to squeeze in a large number of knowing winks and in-jokes.

The events take place at the Mysteries Contrivances Club annual dinner, so it's not surprising that the plot is very contrived. The killer / motive / method combination is probably the weakest part of the story, but maybe that's the point.

It would have been nice to extend out the tale to form a more comprehensive mystery, perhaps with an Agatha Christie "it was all of the suspects" twist that made more of each of the characters' plot devices.

If I write any more the review will be longer than the subject, so I'll conclude by recommending The Locked Room Mystery Mystery as a few minutes of light reading.

6/10 - A unique metafiction take on the locked room mystery format

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