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What’s Inside the Locked Room?
A Knavish Piece of Mystery – Act 3

October 15th, 2020

You might think that the best way to solve a locked-door mystery would be to open the room and see what’s inside. But what happens when what’s inside provides more questions than answers?

We’ll explore those possibilities today as Prime Stage Mystery Theatre’s podcast A Knavish Piece of Mystery enters its third week with a new episode that considers how the solutions we seek may not be solutions at all.

Also, we’ll take time at the beginning of the show to discuss suggestions for opening locked doors. Some practical, some extreme, and one or two that are maybe a little crazy — all in an effort to anticipate what our master sleuth August LaFleur might do as he attempts to solve the mystery of the sealed room.

You can listen in by clicking here or by using the embedded player at the bottom of this post.

If you’ve missed any of our previous episodes or if you’d like to get a refresher on what’s happened in the story so far, you can access the complete episode directory at the Prime Online podcast page. You’ll find that episode list here.

So get out your axes, hinge-pin pullers, and strips of door-hacking plastic as Mystery Theatre presents Act 3 of our locked-door who-done-it — a mystery in which we discover that the solutions we seek may not be solutions at all, and that the story’s knavish piece of mystery may be more puzzling than even a master sleuth can imagine.

Hit play. I’ll meet you there!

Countdown to Mystery: Zero Effect

September 29th, 2020

Some of the greatest detectives don’t work alone. Think of Holmes and Watson, Cagney and Lacey, Batman and Robin.

You get the idea.

Among the most interesting pairings are Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, from the series that the members of Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention) nominated as the “Best Mystery Series of the Century” in 2000. What sets Stout’s detective team apart from most others is that Wolfe is a morbidly obese recluse who never leaves his home, while Goodwin is a gregarious womanizer – a kind of Wolfe-avatar who goes out into the world to investigate the mysteries that the reclusive mastermind contemplates in solitude.

The contrasting images below: Nero Wolfe depicted in The American Magazine (1940) and Archie Goodwin, The Saturday Evening Post (1958).

The Wolfe-Goodwin team has been featured in a number of stage and screen adaptation over the years, most recently in A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-02), the A&E television series starring Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton.

There have also been a few films that seem loosely inspired by Rex Stout’s pairing of opposites, and it’s of these – the under-rated Zero Effect (1998) – that I’d like to recommend today.

Written and directed by Jake Kasdan, whose father Lawrence Kasdan wrote the mystery Body Heat (1981), Zero Effect centers on reclusive detective Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) who solves a complicated mystery with the help of assistant Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller). Though not as well know as my previous recommendations (Sleuth, Deathtrap, Murder on the Orient Express, The Last of Shelia), the Zero Effect is worthy of rediscovery – both for the ingenuity of its mystery and its odd detective team.

Despite its relative obscurity, Zero Effect is available across most streaming platforms as well as on DVD and VHS. Sadly, no Blu-ray or 4K.

I have one more recommendation as we countdown to Prime Stage Theatre’s upcoming A Knavish Piece of Mystery. Look for it tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy Zero Effect.

 

Upcoming Events at Prime Stage Theatre:
Mystery, Monsters, and More …

September 23rd, 2020

This site has been quiet for a while.

Things have been busy, what with dodging the microscopic shrapnel of World War C. Through it all, I’ve been doing my best to learn from the examples set by writers who lived through past epidemics – Sherwood Anderson, Beatrix Potter, and W.E.B. Du Bois (all of whom wrote during the 1918 flu outbreak); and Francesco Petrarca, Thomas Nash, and William Shakespeare (who penned some of their greatest works during Europe’s deadliest plagues).

Clearly, staying at home can have positive side effects for a writer.

So … although it may not be evident from this website (where I haven’t posted since April), I’ve nevertheless been working.

One project, begun shortly after The Wicket Library released  “The Other Kind” back in February, is a new audio drama for Prime Stage Mystery Theatre titled “A Knavish Piece of Mystery.” The program will be a five-part who-done-it, with Prime Stage releasing a new episode each Thursday in October at primestage.com.

“Knavish” is just one of the virtual programs that Prime Online will be offering this fall. Together, these shows will fill the gap left by the live performances that have been moved to 2021-22. Among those plays is my newly completed adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, now set to premiere next fall.

So … while we’re waiting for the good doctor to shout, “It’s alive!” we’ll have plenty of virtual content to keep us entertained. And, since the five episodes of “Knavish” will be interactive, we’ll get to solve that story’s mystery together.

Click the audio player below to hear more about Prime Stage Mystery Theatre’s “A Knavish Piece of Mystery.” I’ll meet you there.

Image Credits:

 

Upcoming Appearances

October 18th, 2011

Saturday, October 29
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Edge Publishing Book Launch
World Fantasy Convention

Town and Country Resort
500 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, CA

I’ll be reading from “The Executioner,” one of the featured stories in Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes. If you’re going to be attending the con, please plan to join us.

I’ll be doing other events at WFC as well, including the mass book signing on Friday night. I’ll post details here soon.

It’s going to be a terrific time!