My Book Notes: It Walks by Night, 1930 (Henri Bencolin, #1) by John Dickson Carr


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British Library Publishing, 2019. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 6630 KB. Print Length: 272 pages. ASIN: B07XJZ8ZFZ. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6725-7. With an introduction by Martin Edwards. It Walks by Night is the first detective novel by John Dickson Carr featuring for the first time Carr’s series detective Henri Bencolin. It was originally published in 1930 by Harper & Brothers, New York and London. “The Shadow of the Goat” was first published in The Haverfordian in November and December 1926.

53116327._SX318_SY475_Book Description: A would-be murderer, imprisoned for his attempt to kill his wife, has escaped and is known to have visited a plastic surgeon. His whereabouts remain a mystery, though with his former wife poised to marry another, Bencolin predicts his return. Sure enough, the Inspector’s worst suspicions are realized when the beheaded body of the new suitor is discovered in a locked room of the salon, with no apparent exit. Bencolin sets off into the Parisian night to unravel the dumbfounding mystery and track down the sadistic killer.

My Take: Paris, 1927. The story is narrated by an American called Jeff Marle. His father’s best friend, M. Henri Bencolin, at that time juge d’instuction and the director of the police, has promised him he’ll see him in action that night. On that same day, Raoul Joudain, sixth Duc de Saligny, a popular idol and legendary sportsman, had married a charming young woman, Madame Louise Laurent. She was  previously married to a certain man named Alexandre Laurent who, shortly after their wedding, assaulted her with a razor blade. He was therefore committed to an asylum for the criminal insane and their marriage was declared null and void. Ten months ago Laurent escaped and the rumour is he underwent a plastic surgery to change his appearance. And now, Laurent is in Paris, determined to kill Saligny if he marries Louise, whom he still regards as being his wife.

The night of their wedding day, Louise and Raoul are at a trendy restaurant with gaming tables, dancing and music. A place that is under close surveillance by Henri Bencolin and his men, in view of the threats received. At a given point, Raoul is seen entering the card-room, no one else is with him and all the doors are guarded by Bencolin and his men. However, after a while, the Duc of Saligny appears death, beheaded. In this way Becolin himself recalled it: 

‘Here were two doors, both guarded, one by me, and one by my most efficient man. We will take our oaths that nobody left by either door, and I trust Francois as I would trust myself. I examine the window immediately, you remember; it was forty feet above the street, no other windows within yards of it, the walls smoot stone. No man in existence –not even a monkey– could have entered or left that way. Besides, I found dust thick and unbroken over the sill, the frame, and the ledge outside. But there was nobody hiding in the room; I made certain of that… ‘

I have to thank Sergio Angelini in particular for having encouraged me to read this book I initially discarded. It Walks By Night is the first full-length novel by John Dickson Carr and, as such, this is a work composed in his youth. A minor detail, perhaps, that we should not overlook to better understand the trajectory of Carr. Even if only for this reason alone, it’s worth reading. It certainly is of interest to all those who would like to explore better the development of his ample production. A minor work, undoubtedly, but nonetheless quite interesting, not exempt of charm, where most of Carr’s favourite topics are already present. In any case I did enjoy reading it. I’m reading next The Door to Doom and Other Detections, mainly interested in the first four Henri Bencolin short stories. Stay tuned.

It Walks by Night has been reviewed, among others, at Past Offences, The Grandest Game in the World, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, ahsweetmysteryblog, Cross-Examining Fiction, The Green Capsule, The Reader Is Warned, Death Can Read, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Dead Yesterday, Bedford Bookshelf, and Shotsmag.

577

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Harper & Brothers (UK), 1930)

About the Author: John Dickson Carr was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1906. It Walks by Night, his first published detective novel, featuring the Frenchman Henri Bencolin, was published in 1930. Apart from Dr Fell, whose first appearance was in Hag’s Nook in 1933, Carr’s other series detectives (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) were the barrister Sir Henry Merrivale, who debuted in The Plague Court Murders (1934).

Henri Bencolin series: It Walks By Night (1930); Castle Skull (1931 – not published in the UK until c. 1980); The Lost Gallows (1931); The Waxworks Murder (1932); and The Four False Weapons (1937).

Henri Bencolin also appears in 4 short stories (all originally published in the Haverfordian): “The Shadow of the Goat” (1926); “The Fourth Suspect” (1927); “The End of Justice” (1927); and “The Murder In Number Four” (1928), that were later reprinted in The Door to Doom and Other Detections, 1980, edited by Douglas G. Greene

Bencolin is also mentioned in Carr’s book Poison in Jest (1932), but does not appear in it. The novel, however, is narrated by Marle.

The British Library publicity page

Poisoned Pen Press publicity page

John Dickson Carr page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki 

John Dickson Carr: the Bencolin short stories at Justice for the Corpse

audible

Anda de noche, de John Dickson Carr

john-d-carr-anda-de-noche-subida (1)Descripción del libro: Un asesino frustrado, encarcelado por haber intentado matar a su esposa, ha escapado. Se sabe que visitó a un cirujano plástico. Su paradero actual es un misterio. Ahora, su ex esposa se prepara para casarse con otro y Bencolín prevé su regreso. Efectivamente, las peores sospechas del inspector se hacen realidad cuando el cuerpo decapitado del nuevo pretendiente es descubierto en la habitación cerrada de un salón, sin salida aparente. Bencolin se adentra en la noche parisina para desentrañar el asombroso misterio y localizar al sádico asesino.

Mi opinión: París, 1927. La historia está narrada por un estadounidense llamado Jeff Marle. El mejor amigo de su padre, M. Henri Bencolin, en ese momento juge d’instuction y director de la policía, le ha prometido que lo verá en acción esa noche. Ese mismo día, Raoul Joudain, sexto duque de Saligny, un ídolo popular y deportista legendario, se había casado con una joven encantadora, Madame Louise Laurent. Anteriormente estuvo casada con cierto hombre llamado Alexandre Laurent quien, poco después de su boda, la agredió con una navaja de afeitar. Por lo tanto, fue internado en un asilo para criminales dementes y su matrimonio fue declarado nulo y sin valor. Hace diez meses Laurent escapó y se rumorea que se sometió a una cirugía plástica para cambiar su apariencia. Y ahora, Laurent está en París, decidido a matar a Saligny si se casa con Louise, a quien todavía considera su esposa.

La noche del día de su boda, Louise y Raoul están en un restaurante de moda con mesas de juego, baile y música. Un lugar que está bajo estrecha vigilancia por parte de Henri Bencolin y sus hombres, ante las amenazas recibidas. En un momento dado, se ve a Raoul entrando en la sala de juegos, nadie más está con él y todas las puertas están custodiadas por Bencolin y sus hombres. Sin embargo, después de un tiempo, el duque de Saligny aparece muerto, decapitado. Así lo recordaba el propio Becolin:

“Había dos puertas, ambas estaban vigiladas, una por mí y otra por mi hombre más eficiente. Prestaremos juramento de que nadie salío por ninguna puerta, y confío en Francois como si fuera yo mismo. Examino la ventana de inmediato, ¿recuerdas? estaba a cuarenta pies por encima de la calle, no había otras ventanas a pocos metros de ella, las paredes eran de piedra lisa. No existe hombre alguno, ni siquiera un mono, que pudiera haber entrado o salido por esa vía. Además, encontré polvo espeso e intacto sobre el alféizar, el marco y el borde exterior. Pero no había nadie escondido en la habitación; Me aseguré de eso … “

Debo agradecer en particular a Sergio Angelini por haberme animado a leer este libro que inicialmente descarté. Anda de noche es la primera novela extensa de John Dickson Carr y, como tal, es una obra compuesta en su juventud. Un detalle menor, quizás, que no deberíamos pasar por alto para entender mejor la trayectoria de Carr. Aunque solo sea por esta razón, vale la pena leerlo. Ciertamente es de interés para todos aquellos que quieran explorar mejor el desarrollo de su amplia producción. Una obra menor, sin duda, pero sin embargo bastante interesante, no exenta de encanto, donde ya están presentes la mayoría de los temas favoritos de Carr. En cualquier caso, disfruté leyéndola. Estoy leyendo a continuación The Door to Doom and Other Detections, principalmente interesado en los primeros cuatro cuentos de Henri Bencolin. Manténganse al tanto.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr nació en Uniontown, Pensilvania, en 1906. Anda de noche, su primera novela policíaca publicada, protagonizada por el francés Henri Bencolin, se publicó en 1930. Aparte del Dr. Fell, cuya primera aparición fue en Hag’s Nook en 1933, el otro detective de las  series  de Carr (publicados bajo el pseudónimo de Carter Dickson) fue el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934).

Serie de Henri Bencolin: Anda de noche (It Walks By Night, 1930); El castillo de la calavera (Castle Skull, 1931); The Lost Gallows, 1931; El crimen de las figuras de cera (The Waxworks Murder / The Corpse in the Waxworks, 1932); y Las cuatro armas falsas (The Four False Weapons, 1937).

Henri Bencolin también aparece en 4 cuentos (todos publicados originalmente en el Haverfordian): “The Shadow of the Goat” (1926); “The Fourth Suspect” (1927); “The End of Justice” (1927); y “The Murder In Number Four” (1928), que fueron recopilados posteriormente en The Door to Doom and Other Detections, 1980, editado por Douglas G. Greene, no publicado en España.

Bencolin también es mencionado en Poison in Jest (1932), publicada en castellano como Veneno en broma, pero no aparece en esta novela también narrada por Marle.

(John Dickson Carr. Ed. El elefante blanco (distribuido por Ed. Saturnino Calleja) 1949, Fuente: Ricardo Bosque)

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