Review: The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr


Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Harper & Row, Publishers, 1989. Format: Paperback. A hardcover edition of this book was published in 1941 by Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN: 0-06-081016-5. 234 pages.   

d6b7d6a887b4209597a34365277444341587343 The Case of the Constant Suicides, first published in 1941, is a detective story by John Dickson Carr. Like much of Dickson Carr’s work, this novel is a locked-room mystery, in addition to being a whodunit. Unlike most of the other Doctor Gideon Fell novels, this story has a very high humorous tone, reminiscent of the Henry Merrivale works. (Source: Wikipedia)

Two distant cousins meet face to face for the first time on a train bound to Scotland. Alan Campbell is a professor of History at Highgate University College and Kathryn Campbell is member of the department of history at the Harpenden College for Women. In all likelihood, there has been some sort of mistake, since they have the same surname. There’s only one compartment booked for a Campbell, without any further indication. Therefore, they have to share it until reaching Glasgow. The purpose of their trip is to attend a sort of ‘family conference’ at the Castle of Shira in Inveraray, summoned following the death of old Angus Campbell a week ago. It is worth to note that, in Scotland, a castle can be almost anything and Shira, despite its name, is rather a slatternly-looking stone building with a high tower. But the question is now if Angus Campbell jumped from the window at the top of the tower where he had his bedroom, or if he was murdered. The fact that Angus had several life insurances that will not be honoured if he committed suicide makes things more complicated, specifically when we know that the door of his bedroom was locked from the inside. For this reason Doctor Gideon Fell is called to help in the investigation. As the story progresses, other suicides will arise that will be investigated in relation to the first case in order to determine if it was a murder, a homicide or an accident.

I am offering this 1941 masterpiece as my second entry in Rich Westlake’s meme, Crimes of the Century, at his blog Past Offences. I would like to suggest a visit to his site to see what other participants have read and shared. For my side I can only add I’ve very much enjoyed what has been my first encounter with the work of John Dickson Carr, it certainly won’t be the last of his books that I have the intention to read. Unfortunately they are not easily available and one have to find them in second-hand bookstores. The Case of the Constant Suicides is a good example of a locked-room mystery, that combines pretty well an interesting story with a clever resolution and I’m sure that it will delight all those who may be interested in reading it. A good test of the quality of this book is that as soon as I finished it, I felt the desire to re-read it. I strongly recommend it.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was one of the greatest writers of the so-called “Golden Age” of mystery fiction, writing complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. He was clearly influenced by the works of Gaston Leroux, the Father Brown stories of G. K. Chesterton, and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. He was a master of the locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery, ‘The Hollow Man’ (1935), is usually considered to be Carr’s masterpiece, and was selected in a 1981 survey of experts, organized by Edward D. Hoch, as the best locked-room mystery of all time.  There can be little doubt that Carr was, and still remains the single most important author in the Locked Room and Impossible Crime sub-genre! (Source: The Locked Room Mystery)

The Case of the Constant Suicides has been reviewed at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel and at crossexaminingcrime.

To start off in the world of Carr I’ll suggest a visit to John Dickson Carr top 10 poll at Tipping My Fedora, here.

El caso de los suicidios constantes de John Dickson Carr

519IuXKZ6iL._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_ El caso de los suicidios constantes, publicada inicialmente en 1941, es una historia de detectives de John Dickson Carr. Al igual que gran parte de la obra de Dickson Carr, esta novela es un misterio de habitación cerrada, además de ser un “whodunit”. A diferencia de la mayor parte del resto de las novelas portagonizadas por el doctor Gedeón Fell, esta historia tiene un tono humorístico muy elevado, que recuerda a las obras de Henry Merrivale. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Dos primos lejanos se encuentran cara a cara por primera vez en un tren con destino a Escocia. Alan Campbell es profesor de Historia en el University College de Highgate y Kathryn Campbell es miembro del departamento de historia en la universidad de mujeres en Harpenden. Con toda probabilidad, se ha producido algún tipo de error, ya que tienen el mismo apellido. Sólo hay un compartimento reservado a nombre de Campbell, sin ninguna indicación más. Por lo tanto, tienen que compartirlo hasta llegar a Glasgow. El propósito de su viaje es asistir a una especie de “reunión familiar” en el Castillo de Shira en Inveraray, convocado tras la muerte del viejo Angus Campbell hace una semana. Vale la pena señalar que, en Escocia, un castillo puede ser casi cualquier cosa y Shira, a pesar de su nombre, es más bien un edificio de piedra de aspecto desaliñado con una alta torre. Pero la pregunta es ahora si Angus Campbell saltó por la ventana en la parte superior de la torre donde él tenía su dormitorio, o si fue asesinado. El hecho de que Angus tuviera varios seguros de vida que no serán pagados ​​si se suicidó hace las cosas más complicadas, especialmente cuando sabemos que la puerta de su habitación estaba cerrada por dentro. Por esta razón el doctor Gedeón Fell es llamado para asistir en la investigación. A medida que la historia avanza, surgirán otros suicidios que serán investigados en relación con el primer caso con el fin de determinar si se trataba de un asesinato, un homicidio o un accidente.

Ofrezco esta obra maestra de 1941 como mi segunda entrada en el meme de Rich Westlake, Crimes of the Century, en su blog Past Offences. Me gustaría sugerir una visita a su sitio para ver lo que otros participantes han leído y compartido. Por mi parte sólo puedo añadir que he disfrutado mucho de lo que ha sido mi primer encuentro con la obra de John Dickson Carr, sin duda no será el último de sus libros que tengo la intención de leer. Por desgracia, no son fáciles de conseguir y uno tiene que encontrarlos en librerías de segunda mano. El caso de los suicidios constantes es un buen ejemplo de un misterio de habitación cerrada, que combina muy bien una historia interesante con una resolución inteligente y estoy seguro que hará las delicias de todos aquellos que puedan estar interesados ​​en leerlo. Una buena prueba de la calidad de este libro es que tan pronto como lo terminé, sentí el deseo de volver a leerlo. Lo recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi calificación: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

John Dickson Carr (1906-1977) fue uno de los más importantes escritores de la llamada “Edad de Oro” de la novela de misterio, relatos de escritura compleja e impulsados por un buen argumento en el que el enigma es de suma importancia. Estaba claramente influenciado por la obra de Gaston Leroux, por las historias del Padre Brown de GK Chesterton y por las aventuras de Sherlock Holmes de Conan Doyle. Fue un maestro del misterio de habitación cerrada, en la que un detective resuelve crímenes aparentemente imposibles. El misterio del Dr, Fell, El hombre hueco (1935), está generalmente considerado como la obra maestra de Carr, y fue seleccionado en una encuesta de expertos, organizada por Edward D. Hoch en 1981, como el mejor misterio de habitación cerrada de todos los tiempos . No cabe duda de que Carr ha sido, y continúa siendo, el autor más importante en el subgénero de misterio de habitación cerrada y delitos imposibles. (Mi traducción libre)

21 thoughts on “Review: The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr

  1. Thanks for the link. And I utterly agree – this was my third Carr and probably the one that got me hooked. Loads of fun, even if the science is nonsense

  2. Yup, “masterpiece” is the word – it’s the first Carr I’d offer up as evidence of his ability to mix all kinds of tones from the broad comedy to terrifying the pants off you without so much as an uncomfortable shift from one to the other. And, best of all, there are plenty of others that do the same thing and are arguably better books into the bargain. What’s not to love?!

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  7. Keishon

    I want to read this book but can’t find it digitized. So, looks like it will have to be ordered. Thanks for the review!

    1. You’re welcome Keishon. This is one of the problems with John Dickson Carr’s books. They are difficult to find and one has to shop for them on second-hand bookstores.

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