Few authors can match the variation and ingenuity of Hoch's story premises, and The Leopold Locked Room is no exception. Following Captain Leopold as he is arrested for the murder of his estranged ex-wife, the story captures his sense of dread as the impossible nature of the crime slowly dawns.
|Edward D. Hoch. Source: Ontos|
Edward D. Hoch was an American detective writer, responsible for almost 1,000 crime fiction short stories. He had over 450 stories featured in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and was published in every (monthly) issue for 34 years without missing a single edition. It was during this time that The Leopold Locked Room was first published, and has been reprinted in several anthologies since.
The Leopold Locked Room
The short story is available in its entirety for free at Google Books (if page does not load correctly hit refresh).
Author: Edward D. Hoch
Word Count: 5,000 (about 20 pages)
The sheer brashness of the crime - committing murder right in front of the detective, then framing him for it - is both astounding and delightful, and must be one of the strongest opening gambits in impossible crime fiction. Hoch's premise is so elegant that even detective begins to doubt his innocence.
The story that follows treads familiar mystery ground, but ends with a solution that is both simple and comprehensive. Leopold's confusion is understandable, and Hoch manages to resolve the mystery with a fairly clued series of events.
There's little to criticise in Hoch's work, as the story begins with a bang and accelerates towards a thrilling ending. With Leopold's freedom on the line it would have been nice to see a little more fight in the detective, but Hoch manages his battle with doubts astutely.
8/10 - A superb premise and rational solution combine in an excellent short mystery
The Leopold Locked Room is available as part of the Tantalizing Locked Room Mysteries anthology from Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US).