Mr. Strang Gets a Second Collection. A review by Jeff Baker.

Mr. Strang Gets a (Second) Collection

a review by Jeff Baker

Publisher Crippen and Landru’s second collection of William Brittain’s fine mystery stories “The Man Who Solved Mysteries” is wonderful, perfect and long, long overdue.

Brittain, who later wrote Y. A. mystery and fantasy novels, started out his writing short mysteries, most of which appeared in Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines over fifty years ago. He had been a teacher in real life and his series character is Mr. Leonard Strang, a High School science teacher who winds up solving mysteries.

The Strang stories had never been collected despite a clamor for them until the recent C & L collection “The Man Who Read Mysteries,” which brought Mr. Strang between hard covers and also collected all of Brittain’s clever “Man Who Read” mysteries.

Packaged with a fine introduction from editor Josh Pachter as well as a reminiscence by Brittain’s son, James and a fine bibliography of William Brittain’s work, the centerpiece of the book is the remaining twenty-five of the Strang stories.

The tales feature moods from the comedic to the tragic and mysteries ranging from crimes, theft and murder and even a historical mystery (in “Mr. Strang Examines a Legend.”) The societal climate of the 60s through the eighties provides a backdrop to many of the stories with civil rights and the counterculture featuring prominently. This makes some of the stories feel almost like historical mysteries themselves as they document a youth culture now decades past.

Almost overlooked is the fact that Brittain was also a master of the Impossible Crime or Miracle Problem and several are featured. The very simple solution of “Mr. Strang Picks Up the Pieces.” The Impossible Vanishment of “Mr. Strang Pulls a Switch.” The clever and complex killing in “Mr. Strang Accepts a Challenge.”

In the stories, answers are found, justice is served and the innocent are exonerated.

And readers are entertained.

Here’s the link to buy not only “The Man Who Solved Mysteries” but “The Man Who Read Mysteries.” As well as the forthcoming collection of the rest of William Brittain’s non-series mystery short-stories “The Man Who Wrote Mysteries.” (Don’t forget to look for the hidden noose on the cover!)

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