Feb 272012

When I began this blog and podcast nearly five years ago, I was determined to keep my book discussions, for the most part, limited to classics that were still in print (or at least readily available). This has been frustrating on a number of occasions – there are authors I’d love to discuss at greater length here but can’t because their books are out of print, and even second-hand copies are relatively pricey and/or rare.

So it is with considerable pleasure that I find that the Rue Morgue Press has republished the first novel by a long-time favorite of mine, Patricia Moyes. “Dead Men Don’t Ski ,” first published in 1959, introduced Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett and his delightful wife Emmy to the reading public. Tibbett is a hard-working police inspector who has developed a sort of “nose” for crime – his instincts occasionally put him on the right track where others have headed off in the wrong direction. “Dead Men Don’t Ski” is the subject of this week’s review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, which you may hear by clicking here.

“Dead Men Don’t Ski” is set at a remote ski lodge in the Italian alps – a lodge so remote that there are no roads leading to it. One arrives at the lodge only by riding the longest chair-lift in Europe. Tibbett is on hand (vacationing) when a murder takes place – a man named Hauser gets on the chair lift at the top, but is found shot to death when his chair arrives at the bottom. Hauser, as Emmy observes, appears to be “the most hated man in Europe,” a man involved in drug trafficking as well as blackmail and other delightful crimes. Naturally, there are a lot of potential suspects at the lodge, all of whom would have had excellent motives for murdering Hauser. But it is Tibbett, through a combination of routine police work, his “nose,” and a bit of keen observation from Emmy, who ultimately solves the mystery.

Along the way, we will be introduced to a broad array of fascinating characters. One of the reasons why I so enjoy Moyes’ books is her excellent characterizations. The reader often gets the impression that the characters are only stereotypes – but in just about every case, those impressions will be proven wrong.

I have chosen this 1959 novel as my entry for the decade of the 1950s in the My Reader’s Block blog Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. This new edition from the Rue Morgue Press includes an introduction to Moyes written by another mystery writer, Katherine Hall Page. She quotes a reviewer who called Moyes “the writer who put the ‘who’ back in the whodunit.” I think that sums it up quite nicely.

For a longer review of this book, please check out my review at the new edition of the “I Love a Mystery” newsletter – thanks to Sally Powers for sharing!