Impossible mystery masterpieces

In keeping with the frightful punning the headline of this post has a double meaning. This post will certainly contain a list of masterpieces within the impossible mystery genre, but also ensure that they are pieces by impossible mystery masters, which I think is an important distinction to make.

So what is then an impossibly mystery master? My definition would be that such a person would have to be one of the following:

1) an author who is not very prolific but wrote (almost) exclusively in the impossible mystery field, e.g. Hake Talbot, John Sladek, Clyde B. Clason, Joseph Commings, Clayton Rawson
2) a more prolific author where if not the majority, then at least a significant portion of his or her contribution to the mystery genre is in the impossible mystery field, e.g. John Dickson Carr, Edward D. Hoch, Bill Pronzini, Arthur Porges, Paul Halter

I think it's worthwhile to use this second meaning, because it means that folks like Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen - who most certainly are mystery masters - do not fall into this category. It also removes several one-off stories that are really great but can be saved for another post. This poor blogger needs to scale down on the number of stories to make the posts more manageable...

But because of the first meaning of the headline, these stories need to be masterpieces, we cannot just dump everything written by the authors mentioned above here. It needs to be their very best works - the tales you can return to later when you're a seasoned impossible mystery expert (hrmph) and still find things to enjoy and be impressed with.

Therefore, I present to you this curated list. I've tried to keep it to at most five stories by each author, though in some cases that was extremely hard to do... I've bolded one story from each author that I think you should try out, if you absolutely must limit yourself to just one.

Arthur Porges Coffee Break 1964
Arthur Porges Murder of a Priest 1967
Arthur Porges No Killer Has Wings 1960
Bill Pronzini Cloud Cracker 1994
Bill Pronzini Proof of Guilt 1973
Bill Pronzini The Arrowmont Prison Riddle 1976
Bill Pronzini Thin Air 1979
C. Daly King The Episode of the Vanishing Harp 1935
Clayton Rawson From Another World 1948
Clayton Rawson Off the Face of the Earth 1949
Stuart Towne Death out of Thin Air 1940
Stuart Towne Ghost of the Undead 1940
Edward D. Hoch Captain Leopold and the Ghost Killer 1974
Edward D. Hoch The 'Impossible' Impossible Murder 1968
Edward D. Hoch The Leopold Locked Room 1971
Edward D. Hoch The Long Way Down 1965
Edward D. Hoch The Vanishing of Velma 1969
Hake Talbot The Other Side 1990
John Dickson Carr Persons and Things Unknown 1938
John Dickson Carr The Silver Curtain 1939
John Dickson Carr The House in Goblin Wood 1947
John Dickson Carr The Third Bullet 1937
John Dickson Carr The Wrong Problem 1936
John Sladek By an Unknown Hand 1972
Joseph Commings The Black Friar Murders 1948
Joseph Commings Death by Black Magic 1948
Joseph Commings Ghost in the Gallery 1949
Joseph Commings The X Street Murders 1962
Joseph Commings & Edward D. Hoch Stairway to Nowhere 1979
Paul Halter Jacob's Ladder 2014
Paul Halter Murder in Cognac 1999
Paul Halter The Abominable Snowman 2002
Paul Halter The Flower Girl 1998
Paul Halter The Tunnel of Death 1993

This might be the best list of impossible crime stories I've ever seen, if I may say so myself... I'd recommend any of these stories to anyone who wanted to see what an impossible mystery short story might be like.

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