My Book Notes: “The House in Goblin Wood”, 1947 [Sir Henry Merrivale] s.s. by John Dickson Carr as Carter Dickson

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The Strand Magazine 114, No. 2 (November 1947): 43-54, 104-8. Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Vol 10, #48 (November 1947): 4-20. In The Third Bullet and Other Stories (1954).

ellery_queens_mystery_194711Summary: Vicky Adams, the child of a wealthy family, disappeared one night from a country cottage with all the doors and windows locked on the inside. At the time she was twelve or thirteen.  A week later, the girl reappeared again: through the locks and bolts, tucked up in her bed as usual. To date, nobody’s ever known what really happened. But just now, twenty years later, at the same place and in similar circumstances Vicky Adams has disappeared again.

My Take:  When I read Bloody Murder by Julian Symons, I underlined the next words: “Most of Carr’s stories are compressed versions of his locked-room novels, and at times they benefit from the compression. Probably the best of them are in the Carter Dickson book, The Department of Queer Complaints (1940), although this does not include the brilliantly clever H.M. story “The House in Goblin Wood” or a successful pastiche which introduces Edgar Allan Poe as a detective.” But I forgot all about it until now when, by pure chance, I saw it mentioned by TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time and I hastened to read it. “The House in Goblin Wood” is a masterpiece. Absolutely brilliant.

“The House in Goblin Wood” has been reviewed, among others by Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Mike Gray at Ontos, and at Suddenly At His Residence (with spoilers)

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). (Source: Goodreads)

Recommended short story collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection (1954); The Men Who Explained Miracles  (1963); The Door to Doom and Other Detections (1980 ) includes radio plays; The Dead Sleep Lightly (1983) radio plays.

‘The House in “Goblin Wood”’, un relato breve de John Dickson Carr como Carter Dickson

Resumen: Vicky Adams, hija de una familia adinerada, desapareció una noche de una casa de campo con todas las puertas y ventanas cerradas por dentro. En aquel momento tenía doce o trece años. Una semana después, la niña reapareció de nuevo: a través de cerraduras y pestillos, metida en su cama como de costumbre. Hasta la fecha, nadie ha sabido nunca lo que sucedió realmente. Pero justo ahora, veinte años después, en el mismo lugar y en circunstancias similares, Vicky Adams ha vuelto a desaparecer.

Mi opinión: Cuando leí Bloody Murder de Julian Symons, subrayé las siguientes palabras: “La mayoría de los relatos breves de Carr son versiones comprimidas de sus novelas de cuarto cerrado, y en ocasiones se benefician de esta compresión. Probablemente las mejores de ellas están en  The Department of Queer Complaints (1940) de Carter Dickson, aunque no incluye la brillante e inteligente historia de HM “La casa en Goblin Wood”, un pastiche de éxito en el que presenta a Edgar Allan Poe como detective”. Pero lo olvidé por completo hasta ahora cuando, por pura casualidad, lo vi mencionado por TomCat en Beneath the Stains of Time y me apresuré a leerlo. “La casa en Goblin Wood” es una obra maestra. Absolutamente brillante.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr nació en Uniontown, Pensilvania, en 1906. It Walks by Night, 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, otra serie de detectives de Carr (publicada bajo el pseudónimo de Carter Dickson) es la del Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934). (Fuente: Goodreads)

Colecciones recomendadas de relatos: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection (1954); The Men Who Explained Miracles  (1963); The Door to Doom and Other Detections  (1980 incluye obras radiofónicas; The Dead Sleep Lightly (1983) obras radiofónicas.

My Book Notes: The Ten Teacups (aka The Peacock Feather Murders), 1937 (Sir Henry Merrivale #6) by John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson

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International Polygonics, Ltd. 1987. Format: Paperback Edition. 192 pages. ASIN : B012HUKR6C. ISBN: 9780930330682. Originally published in the US by William Morrow in 1937; and in the UK (as The Ten Teacups) by William Heinemann in 1937. [Serialized as The Ten Teacups in the British magazine “The Passing Show”, November 27, 1937-January 29, 1938.]

574cbcba5c6d907593036445941444341587343_v5Synopsis: The murderer sent a formal invitation to Scotland Yard telling them the time and place of the murder. Incredulous, and astounded at the audacity of such a note, the Yard recalled a similar, and still unsolved, case of two years previous. Sir Henry Merrivale and Chief Inspector Masters accepted the invitation and had the house surrounded. Upstairs in an otherwise empty house was a furnished room. A man entered the house. Promptly at the time set by the murderer a shot rang out. The police rushed in and discovered that same man on the floor with a bullet through the back of the head and another in his spine… but no one else had entered the house! It was an impossible situation, but it DID happen. (Source: Goodreads)

My take: “THERE WILL BE TEN CUPS OF TEA AT NUMBER 4 BERWICK TERRACE, W. 8, ON WEDNESDAY JULY 31ST AT 5 P.M. PRECISELY. THE PRESENCE OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED”. This note, addressed to Chief Inspector Humphrey Masters at New Scotland Yard, might have passed unnoticed had it not ben for its similarity with another anonymous note received two years back, that read: “THERE WILL BE TEN TEACUPS AT NUMBER 18, PENDRAGON GARDENS, W8, ON MONDAY, APRIL 30, AT 9:30 P.M. THE POLICE ARE WARNED TO KEEP AN EYE OUT.”

On that occasion, a sergeant, on his way to the police station, saw the house-door of number 18 ajar, which caught his attention. The rooms were unfurnished, except one in which he found a large round table on which someone had arranged ten teacups and saucers in a circle. There was nothing else, just the cups, and they were all empty. That wasn’t the only odd thing. There was also a dead man who had been shot twice from behind at close range with a 32-calibre automatic. According to the medical evidence, he died between ten and eleven the previous night. There were many fingerprints in the room, but none on the cups and saucers. Besides, in the fireplace a wood fire had burnt out and among the ashes there were the remains of a large cardboard box and fragments of wrapping paper. It was easy to identify the victim, his name was William Morris Dartley, a bachelor, very well off, who had no relatives except an unmarried sister. He hadn’t even any friends and his only interest in life was collecting all sort of art objects. Thus we arrive to the ten teacups. They were something special. They had had a design like peacock feathers, and were real museum pieces. But they belonged to Dartley, who had just bought them. And now, two years later, the crime still remains unsolved when Scotland Yard receives another note about ten teacups. Does this mean another murder? And Chief Inspector Masters decides to consult Sir Henry Merrivale on this matter.

Masters assures Merrivale that number four Berwick Terrace is an empty house, in fact only a few houses on that street are occupied. However, yesterday a van delivered some furniture at number four that were put it inside. Therefore, Merrivale advises Masters to place his two best men in civilian clothes to cover the front and back of the house and, if he can, to send another man inside, to keep the house guarded inside and out. Shortly before the announced time, a man walks into number four Berwick Terrace. Detective Sergeant Pollard watches him entering the furnished room. At 17:00 sharp, two shots are heard. Pollard rushes into the room, where he finds the dead man, with a pistol next to him, but there is no one else there. Realizing there is an open window, he runs towards it. Sergeant Hollis is right below it. Pollard suggests the murderer jumped out the window, to which Hollis’s reply is “No one came out this window.” Let us listen to what Henry Merrivale himself has to say about this case:

‘Once, a couple of years ago (I think it was in that White Priory case) I made a generalization. I said there were only three motives for a murderer to create a locked-room situation. I said there was first, the suicide-fake; second, the ghost-fake; third, a series of accidents which he murderer couldn’t help. Well, I was wrong. When I was gradually tumblin’ to the way in which this little sleight-o’-hand trick was worked, I saw a fourth motive, the neatest and most intelligent of all. A super-cunning criminal has at last realized the legal value of impossibility; and he’s realized that, if he can really create an impossible situation, he can never be convicted for murder no matter if all the other evidence is strong enough to hang a bench of bishops. He is not tryin’ to evade the detecting power of the law so much as to evade the punishment power. He’s realized that, set beside impossibility, all other methods of coverin’ his tracks are clumsy and uncertain.’

The structure of this impossible crime is very well crafted and I found the solution impeccable, even though it has intermediate moments that have seem to me cumbersome in excess. However, finally I found them to be fully justified. Maybe I do need to re-read it again to better appreciate it. In any case, I have found it a real delight. In short, it might be too early yet to include it among my favourite Carr books, but it won’t be far off. 

The Ten Teacups has been reviewed, among others, at Classic Mysteries, In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Cross-Examining Crime, The Green Capsule, John Grant’s Reviews at Goodreads, The Invisible Event, Ah Sweet Mystery Blog, The Passing Tramp, and The Grandest Game in the World

1090

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Morrow Mystery (USA), 1937)

1102

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Heinemann (UK), 1937)

About the Author: Born in 1906, John Dickson Carr was an American author of Golden Age ‘British-style’ detective stories. He published his first novel, It Walks by Night, in 1930 while studying in Paris to become a barrister. Shortly thereafter he settled in his wife’s native England where he wrote prolifically, averaging four novels per year until the end of WWII. Well-known as a master of the locked-room mystery, Carr created eccentric sleuths to solve apparently impossible crimes. His two most popular series detectives were Dr. Fell, who debuted in Hag’s Nook in 1933, and barrister Sir Henry Merrivale (published under the pseudonym of Carter Dickson) who first appeared in The Plague Court Murders (1934) Eventually, Carr left England and moved to South Carolina where he continued to write, publishing several more novels and contributing a regular column to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. In his lifetime, Carr received the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and was one of only two three Americans ever admitted into the prestigious – but almost exclusively British – Detection Club. He died in 1977.

Sir Henry Merrivale is a fictional detective created by “Carter Dickson”, a pen name of John Dickson Carr (1906–1977). Also known as “the Old Man,” by his initials “H. M.” (a pun on “His Majesty”), or “the Maestro”, he appeared in twenty-two locked room mysteries and “impossible crime” novels of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as well as in two short stories. (Source: Wikipedia)

Sir Henry Merrivale selected bibliography: (Novels): The Plague Court Murders (1934), The White Priory Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936), The Peacock Feather Murders aka The Ten Teacups (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), She Died a Lady (1943), He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944), The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945), My Late Wives (1946), Night at the Mocking Widow (1950). And a collection of short stories Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

John Dickson Carr page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

Sir Henry Merrivale at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

La policía está invitada, de John Dickson Carr, como Carter Dickson

La-policía-está-invitada-Carter-Dickson-portadaSinopsis: El asesino envió una invitación formal a Scotland Yard avisando de la hora y del lugar del crimen. Incrédulos y asombrados por la audacia de la nota, en Scotland Yard recuerdan un caso similar, aún sin resolver, ocurrido dos años atrás.
Sir Henry Merrivale y el inspector jefe Masters aceptan la invitación y rodean la casa. En el piso de arriba, en una casa por lo demás vacía, había una habitación amueblada. Un hombre entró en la casa. Inmediatamente, a la hora establecida por el asesino, sonó un disparo. La policía entró corriendo y descubrió al mismo hombre en el suelo con una bala en la nuca y otra en la columna … ¡pero no había entrado nadie más a la casa! Era una situación imposible, pero sucedió. (Fuente: Goodreads)

Mi opinión: “HABRÁ DIEZ TAZAS DE TÉ EN EL NÚMERO 4 DE BERWICK TERRACE, W. 8, EL MIÉRCOLES 31 DE JULIO A LAS 5 P.M. EN PUNTO. SE SOLICITA RESPETUOSAMENTE LA PRESENCIA DE LA POLICÍA METROPOLITANA”. Esta nota, dirigida al inspector jefe Humphrey Masters de New Scotland Yard, podría haber pasado desapercibida si no hubiera sido por su similitud con otra nota anónima recibido hace dos años, que decía: “HABRÁ DIEZ TAZAS EN EL NÚMERO 18, DE PENDRAGON GARDENS, W8 , EL LUNES 30 DE ABRIL A LAS 21:30 SE ADVIERTE A LA POLICÍA QUE ESTÉ ALERTA”.

En aquella ocasión, un sargento, de camino a la comisaría, vio entreabierta la puerta de la casa número 18, lo que llamó su atención. Las habitaciones estaban sin amueblar, excepto una en la que encontró una gran mesa redonda en la que alguien había dispuesto diez tazas de té y platos en círculo. No había nada más, solo las tazas, y estaban todas vacías. Eso no fue lo único extraño. También había un hombre muerto al que habían disparado dos veces por detrás a quemarropa con una automática calibre 32. Según las pruebas médicas, murió entre las diez y las once de la noche anterior. Había muchas huellas dactilares en la habitación, pero ninguna en las tazas y platos. Además, en la chimenea se había apagado un fuego de leña y entre las cenizas había restos de una gran caja de cartón y fragmentos de papel de envolver. Fue fácil identificar a la víctima, su nombre era William Morris Dartley, un soltero, muy acomodado, que no tenía parientes excepto una hermana soltera. Ni siquiera tenía amigos y su único interés en la vida era coleccionar todo tipo de objetos de arte. Así llegamos a las diez tazas de té. Eran algo especial. Tenían un diseño como de plumas de pavo real y eran verdaderas piezas de museo. Pero pertenecían a Dartley, que las acababa de comprar. Y ahora, dos años después, el crimen sigue sin resolverse cuando Scotland Yard recibe otra nota sobre diez tazas de té. ¿Significa esto otro asesinato? Y el inspector jefe Masters decide consultar a Sir Henry Merrivale sobre este asunto.

Masters asegura a Merrivale que el número cuatro de Berwick Terrace es una casa vacía, de hecho, solo unas pocas casas en esa calle están ocupadas. Sin embargo, ayer una camioneta entregó algunos muebles en el número cuatro que se colocaron dentro. Por lo tanto, Merrivale aconseja a Masters que coloque a sus dos mejores hombres vestidos de civil para cubrir la parte delantera y trasera de la casa y, si puede, que envíe a otro hombre adentro, para mantener la casa vigilada por dentro y por fuera. Poco antes de la hora anunciada, un hombre entra en el número cuatro de Berwick Terrace. El sargento detective Pollard lo observa entrar en la habitación amueblada. A las 17:00 en punto, se escuchan dos disparos. Pollard se apresura a entrar en la habitación, donde encuentra al hombre muerto, con una pistola a su lado, pero no hay nadie más allí. Al darse cuenta de que hay una ventana abierta, corre hacia ella. El sargento Hollis está justo debajo. Pollard sugiere que el asesino saltó por la ventana, a lo que la respuesta de Hollis es “Nadie salió por esta ventana”. Escuchemos lo que el propio Henry Merrivale tiene que decir sobre este caso:

“Una vez, hace un par de años (creo que fue en el caso de White Priory) hice una generalización. Dije que solo había tres motivos para que un asesino creara una situación de cuarto cerrado. Dije que había primero, el falso suicidio; segundo, el falso fantasma; tercero, una serie de accidentes que el asesino no pudo evitar. Bueno, estaba equivocado. Cuando comencé a dar vueltas gradualmente hacia la forma en que se realizaba este pequeño truco de prestidigitación, vi un cuarto motivo, el más pulcro e inteligente de todos. Un criminal sumamente ingenioso se ha dado cuenta por fin del valor legal de la imposibilidad; y se ha dado cuenta de que, si realmente puede crear una situación imposible, nunca podrá ser condenado por asesinato, sin importarle si todas las demás pruebas son lo suficientemente fuertes como para colgar a todo un banquillo de obispos. No está tratando de evadir el poder de detección de la ley tanto como de evadir su poder de castigo. Se ha dado cuenta de que, junto a la imposibilidad, los otros métodos para cubrir su rastro resultan burdos e inciertos “.

La estructura de este crimen imposible está muy bien elaborada y la solución me pareció impecable, aunque tiene momentos intermedios que me han parecido engorrosos en exceso. Sin embargo, finalmente encontré que estaban plenamente justificados. Tal vez necesite volver a leerlo para apreciarlo mejor. En cualquier caso, lo he encontrado un verdadero placer. En resumen, puede que sea demasiado pronto para incluirlo entre mis libros favoritos de Carr, pero no estará muy lejos.

Acerca del autor: Nacido en 1906, John Dickson Carr fue un autor estadounidense de novelas policiacas al estilo británico de la Edad de Oro. Publicó su primera novela, It Walks by Night, en 1930 mientras estudiaba en París para convertirse en abogado. Poco después se instaló en la Inglaterra natal de su mujer, donde escribió prolíficamente, con un promedio de cuatro novelas por año hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Conocido como un maestro del misterio del cuarto cerrado, Carr creó excéntricos detectives para resolver crímenes aparentemente imposibles. Sus dos series de detectives más populares fueron Dr. Fell, que debutó en Hag’s Nook en 1933, y el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale (publicados bajo el seudónimo de Carter Dickson), quien apareció por primera vez en The Plague Court Murders (1934) Finalmente, Carr dejó Inglaterra y se mudó a Carolina del Sur, donde continuó escribiendo, publicando varias novelas más y contribuyendo con una columna regular al Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. En vida, Carr recibió el más alto honor de los Mystery Writers of America, el Grand Master Award, y fue uno de los dos tres únicos estadounidenses admitidos en el prestigioso, pero casi exclusivamente británico, Detection Club. Murió en 1977.

​Sir Henry Merrivale es un detective de ficción creado por “Carter Dickson”, un seudónimo de John Dickson Carr (1906-1977). También conocido como “el Viejo”, por sus iniciales “HM” (un juego de palabras sobre “Su Majestad”), o “el Maestro”, apareció en veintidós misterios de cuarto cerrado y novelas de “delitos imposible” de la década de 1930, 1940 y 1950, así como en dos relatos.

Bibliografía selecccionada de Sir Henry Merrivale: (Novelas) El patio de la plaga (The Plague Court Murders, 1934); Sangre en el espejo de la Reina (The White Priory Murders, 1934); Los crímenes de la viuda roja (The Red Widow Murders, 1935); Los crímenes del unicornio (The Unicorn Murders, 1935); Los crímenes de polichinela (The Magic Lantern Murders / The Punch and Judy Murders, 1936); La policía está invitada (The Peacock Feather Murders / The Ten Teacups, 1937); La ventana de Judas (The Judas Window / The Crossbow Murder, 1938);  Muerte en cinco cajas (Death in Five Boxes, 1938); Advertencia al lector (The Reader is Warned, 1939); Murió como una dama (She Died a Lady, 1943); Empezó entre fieras (He Wouldn’t Kill Patience, 1944); La lámpara de bronce / El señor de las hechicerías (The Curse of the Bronze Lamp / Lord of the Sorcerers, 1945); Mis mujeres muertas (My Late Wives, 1946); La noche de la viuda burlona  (Night at the Mocking Window, 1950). Y una colección de relatos breves Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

My Book Notes: The Judas Window, 1938 (Sir Henry Merrivale # 7) by John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson

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Tannenberg Publishing, 2016. Format: EPUB. File Size: 1268 KB. Print Length: 207 pages. ISBN: 9781786259745. Originally published by William Morrow, New York, 1938 (printed December, 1937) and by William Heinemann, London, 1938. This book was also published as The Crossbow Murder [Berkley, 1964]. The British and American editions have many textual differences, mostly minor, but the name of one major character is different.

095804558-hq-168-80Book Description: Only young James Answell could have committed the murder. After all, he was found unconscious in the locked room next to the body of the murdered man. His clothes were disheveled from an apparent struggle. The whiskey decanter containing the liquor he said was used to knock him out was full to the brim. All the glasses on the table were clean. His fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, an arrow from the victim’s collection. Furthermore, he was heard arguing with the dead man, whose daughter he wished to marry. Just about everyone is convinced that James is headed for a date with the hangman.

Everyone except Sir Henry Merrivale, H.M. to his friends and associates. He’s convinced that the real murderer used a “Judas window” to commit the crime. Pay no attention to the architects who designed the building, H.M. insists. In fact, he says, you’ll find a Judas window in practically every room. “The trouble is that so few people ever notice it.”

First published in 1938, The Judas Window is considered by many to be the best locked room mystery of all time. Carter Dickson is, of course, the pseudonym of John Dickson Carr, the universally acknowledged grand master of the form.

My Take: From a relatively straightforward plot, John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson, delivers us possibly the finest locked-room mystery ever written. It can be stressed that, in a sense, he departs from the classic canon of this kind of mysteries. From the beginning all evidence point out to one single suspect, otherwise, it would be difficult to explain what happened. And given that the story mainly unfolds in a courtroom, it can also be qualified as a courtroom drama.

A tragic occurrence took place the fourth of January last. James Caplon Answell, a wealthy young man, had gone to visit Mr Avory Hume to inform him of his intention to marrying his only daughter, Mary. Their encounter was rather cold, however, his soon-to-be father-in-law was not against their marriage and offered him a drink. Shortly after, the young man fainted not without realising before he had been drugged. Upon awakening, the young man found Mr Hume lying dead on the floor and he can’t explain himself what it is that could had happened. The door to the room was firmly bolted on the inside and the steel shutters on each one of the two windows were also locked, secured with a flat steel bar. Surely nobody would believe he had done it? Why should he? Besides, he could easily explain: he had been given a drugged drink. The problem was that, on the sideboard, the decanter of whisky was full to its stopper, not a drop of soda had been drawn from the siphon, and the four glasses were clean, polished, and obviously unused. The case seems relatively simple for the prosecution. After all, young Answell  was found alone with a murdered man in a room rendered inaccessible.  Certainly, this is a case tailor-made for Sir Henry Merrivale, who takes charge of the defence. 

Brian Skupin at Mystery Scene sums up very well my view of this novel saying:

The Judas Window, … , has it all. It’s a fast-paced, fair-play detective novel with trial scenes running throughout most of the book, and two thundering climaxes in court at the end. It’s also a locked-room mystery, with one of the best practical solutions to murder in a locked room ever devised.

Simply a brilliant and intelligent read.

The Judas Window, has been reviewed, among others, at Mystery Scene, Tipping My Fedora, Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan, Only Detect,In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Clothes in Books, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Cross-Examining Crime, Vintage Pop Fictions, The Green Capsule, Classic Mysteries, and The Grandest Game in the World.

1084

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Heinemann (UK), 1938)

1085

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Morrow Mystery (USA), 1938)

About the Author: Born in 1906, John Dickson Carr was an American author of Golden Age ‘British-style’ detective stories. He published his first novel, It Walks by Night, in 1930 while studying in Paris to become a barrister. Shortly thereafter he settled in his wife’s native England where he wrote prolifically, averaging four novels per year until the end of WWII. Well-known as a master of the locked-room mystery, Carr created eccentric sleuths to solve apparently impossible crimes. His two most popular series detectives were Dr. Fell, who debuted in Hag’s Nook in 1933, and barrister Sir Henry Merrivale (published under the pseudonym of Carter Dickson) who first appeared in The Plague Court Murders (1934) Eventually, Carr left England and moved to South Carolina where he continued to write, publishing several more novels and contributing a regular column to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. In his lifetime, Carr received the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and was one of only two three Americans ever admitted into the prestigious – but almost exclusively British – Detection Club. He died in 1977.

Sir Henry Merrivale is a fictional detective created by “Carter Dickson”, a pen name of John Dickson Carr (1906–1977). Also known as “the Old Man,” by his initials “H. M.” (a pun on “His Majesty”), or “the Maestro”, he appeared in twenty-two locked room mysteries and “impossible crime” novels of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as well as in two short stories. (Source: Wikipedia)

Sir Henry Merrivale selected bibliography: (Novels): The Plague Court Murders (1934), The White Priory Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936), The Peacock Feather Murders aka The Ten Teacups (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), She Died a Lady (1943), He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944), The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945), My Late Wives (1946), Night at the Mocking Widow (1950). And a collection of short stories Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

John Dickson Carr page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

Sir Henry Merrivale at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

La ventana de Judas de John Dickson Carr escribiendo como Carter Dickson

Carter-dicksonla-ventana-de-judasDescripción del libro: Solo el joven James Answell pudo haber cometido el asesinato. Después de todo, lo encontraron inconsciente en el cuarto cerrado junto al cuerpo del hombre asesinado. Su ropa estaba desaliñada por una aparente pelea. El decantador de whisky que contenía el licor que dijo que se usó para dejarlo fuera de combate estaba llena hasta el borde. Todos los vasos de la mesa estaban limpios. Se encontraron sus huellas digitales en el arma homicida, una flecha de la colección de la víctima. Además, se le escuchó discutir con el difunto, con cuya hija deseaba casarse. Casi todo el mundo está convencido de que James se dirige a una cita con el verdugo.

Todos excepto Sir Henry Merrivale, H.M. para sus amigos y asociados. Está convencido de que el verdadero asesino utilizó una “ventana de Judas” para cometer el crimen. No preste atención a los arquitectos que diseñaron el edificio, insiste H.M. De hecho, dice, encontrará una ventana de Judas en prácticamente todas las habitaciones. “El problema es que muy pocas personas lo notan”.

Publicado por primera vez en 1938, La ventana de Judas está considerada por muchos como el mejor misterio de cuarto cerrado de todos los tiempos. Carter Dickson es, por supuesto, el seudónimo de John Dickson Carr, universalmente reconocido como el gran maestro del género. (Fuente: Goodreads)

Mi opinión: A partir de una trama relativamente sencilla, John Dickson Carr, escribiendo como Carter Dickson, nos ofrece posiblemente el mejor misterio de habitación cerrada jamás escrito. Cabe destacar que, en cierto sentido, se aparta del canon clásico de este tipo de misterios. Desde el principio, todas las pruebas apuntan a un solo sospechoso, de lo contrario, sería difícil explicar lo sucedido. Y dado que la historia se desarrolla principalmente en una sala de justicia, también se puede calificar como un drama judicial.

Un hecho trágico tuvo lugar el cuatro de enero pasado. James Caplon Answell, un joven adinerado, había ido a visitar al señor Avory Hume para informarle de su intención de casarse con su única hija, Mary. Su encuentro fue bastante frío, sin embargo, su futuro suegro no estaba en contra de su matrimonio y le ofreció una bebida. Poco después, el joven se desmayó no sin darse cuenta antes de que lo habían drogado. Al despertarse, el joven Answell encontró al Sr. Hume muerto en el suelo y no puede explicarse qué es lo que pudo haber sucedido. La puerta de la habitación estaba firmemente cerrada por dentro y las contraventanas de acero de cada una de las dos ventanas también estaban cerradas, aseguradas con una barra de acero plana. ¿Seguramente nadie creería que lo había hecho? ¿Por qué iba a haberlo hecho? Además, podía explicarlo fácilmente: le habían dado una bebida drogada. El problema era que, en el aparador, la jarra de whisky estaba llena hasta el tope, no se había servido gota alguna de soda del sifón y los cuatro vasos estaban limpios, lustrosos y, obviamente, sin usar. El caso parece relativamente sencillo para la fiscalía. Después de todo, el joven Answell fue encontrado solo con un hombre asesinado en una habitación inaccesible. Ciertamente, este es un caso hecho a medida para Sir Henry Merrivale, quien se encarga de la defensa.

Brian Skupin en Mystery Scene resume muy bien lo que pienso de esta novela diciendo:

La ventana de Judas, …, lo tiene todo. Es una novela de detectives de ritmo rápido y juego limpio con escenas de juicio que se extienden a lo largo de la mayor parte del libro y dos clímax grandiosos al final del juicio. También es un misterio de cuarto cerrado, con una de las mejores soluciones prácticas jamás ideada de un asesinato cometido en un cuarto cerrado.

Simplemente una lectura brillante e inteligente.

Acerca del autor: Nacido en 1906, John Dickson Carr fue un autor estadounidense de novelas policiacas al estilo británico de la Edad de Oro. Publicó su primera novela, It Walks by Night, en 1930 mientras estudiaba en París para convertirse en abogado. Poco después se instaló en la Inglaterra natal de su mujer, donde escribió prolíficamente, con un promedio de cuatro novelas por año hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Conocido como un maestro del misterio del cuarto cerrado, Carr creó excéntricos detectives para resolver crímenes aparentemente imposibles. Sus dos series de detectives más populares fueron Dr. Fell, que debutó en Hag’s Nook en 1933, y el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale (publicados bajo el seudónimo de Carter Dickson), quien apareció por primera vez en The Plague Court Murders (1934) Finalmente, Carr dejó Inglaterra y se mudó a Carolina del Sur, donde continuó escribiendo, publicando varias novelas más y contribuyendo con una columna regular al Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. En vida, Carr recibió el más alto honor de los Mystery Writers of America, el Grand Master Award, y fue uno de los dos tres únicos estadounidenses admitidos en el prestigioso, pero casi exclusivamente británico, Detection Club. Murió en 1977.

​Sir Henry Merrivale es un detective de ficción creado por “Carter Dickson”, un seudónimo de John Dickson Carr (1906-1977). También conocido como “el Viejo”, por sus iniciales “HM” (un juego de palabras sobre “Su Majestad”), o “el Maestro”, apareció en veintidós misterios de cuarto cerrado y novelas de “delitos imposible” de la década de 1930, 1940 y 1950, así como en dos relatos.

Bibliografía selecccionada de Sir Henry Merrivale: (Novelas) El patio de la plaga (The Plague Court Murders , 1934); Sangre en el espejo de la Reina (The White Priory Murders, 1934); Los crímenes de la viuda roja (The Red Widow Murders, 1935); Los crímenes del unicornio (The Unicorn Murders, 1935); Los crímenes de polichinela (The Magic Lantern Murders / The Punch and Judy Murders, 1936); La policía está invitada (The Peacock Feather Murders / The Ten Teacups, 1937); La ventana de Judas (The Judas Window / The Crossbow Murder, 1938);  Muerte en cinco cajas (Death in Five Boxes, 1938); Advertencia al lector (The Reader is Warned, 1939); Murió como una dama ( She Died a Lady, 1943); Empezó entre fieras (He Wouldn’t Kill Patience, 1944); La lámpara de bronce / El señor de las hechicerías ( The Curse of the Bronze Lamp / Lord of the Sorcerers, 1945); Mis mujeres muertas (My Late Wives, 1946); La noche de la viuda burlona  (Night at the Mocking Window, 1950). Y una colección de relatos velas cortas Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

My Book Notes: The Plague Court Murders, 1934 (Sir Henry Merrivale #1) by John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson

Esta entrada es bilingüe, desplazarse hacia abjo para ver la versión en español

The Langtail Press, 2010. Book Format: Paperback. Number of pages: 230. ISBN: 978-1780020075. First published in the US by Morrow, 1934 and in the UK by Heinemann, 1935.

9781780020075Book Description: The first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery from Golden Age author John Dickson Carr. When Dean Halliday becomes convinced that the malevolent ghost of Louis Playge is haunting his family estate in London, he invites Ken Blake and Detective-Inspector Masters along to Plague Court to investigate. Arriving at night, they find his aunt and fiancée preparing to exorcise the spirit in a séance run by psychic Roger Darworth. While Darworth locks himself in a stone house behind Plague Court, the séance proceeds, and at the end he is found gruesomely murdered. But who, or what, could have killed him? All the windows and doors were bolted and locked, and no one could have gotten inside. The only one who can solve the crime in this bizarre and chilling tale is locked-room expert Sir Henry Merrivale.

My Take: The story opens on September 6, 1930. It is told by Ken Blake and revolves around a house called Plague Court that belongs to the family of his friend Dean Halliday. Halliday believes the house is haunted by the ghost of Louis Playge, a hangman who lived in the 17th century and is suspected of having been buried there. Halliday convinces Blake, and Inspector Masters of Scotland Yard, the latter unofficially, to spend the night there. The purpose is to find out if what they see or hear can be explained rationally. That same day the morning papers bring the news of the disappearance of a steel dagger from the London Museum. The dagger had been donated to the Museum by J. G. Halliday, Esq, at the beginning of the century and it is believed to have been the property of Louis Playge. Finally, we learned that a charlatan called Roger Darworth has convinced Halliday’s aunt, Lady Anne Benning, he is able to free Court Plague from Playge’s spell.

That evening, when Blake, together with Halliday and Masters, arrive at Court Plague, they find that Lady Benning, Halliday’s fiancée Miss Marion Latimer, her brother Ted and an old family friend called Major Featherton are gathered there. They have come to Court Plague following Darworth’s instructions. Darworth plan is to confine himself in a little stone house in the yard at midnight to spend the night there while everyone else waits outside. In this way, he will carry out an exorcism to make the spell disappear before daylight. Not even Darworth assistant, a boy named Joseph, who accompanies him for his skills as a medium, will stay with him during his confinement. But something goes wildly wrong and Darworth is stabbed to death inside the house whose door and windows were all firmly locked inwardly. This macabre finding challenges all the laws of logic and appears inexplicable. Besides, Louis Playge’s dagger appears lying on the ground next to the body and not a single footprint is found on the great spot of mud that extends all around outside house. This is, undoubtedly, a tailor-made case for Sir Henry Merrivale.

Even at the risk of sounding repetitive, The Plague Court Murders is the first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery. However, he will only make his appearance after the second half of the story, at which point he begins to play the leading role. It also turns out curious that the first edition of this novel was subtitled A Chief Inspector Masters Mystery, and we might wonder if John Dickson Carr changed his mind as he was writing it. Be that as it may, between 1934 and 1955, Sir Henry Merrivale will be present in a total of twenty-two novels and several short stories, compiled in 1991 by Douglas Greene under the title Merrivale, March and Murder.

There isn’t much more I can add to what already has been said about this book. I very much like the perfect mix between reality and legend, the rational and the irrational, what has reminded me of the nowadays novels by Fred Vargas. I wonder whether this possible relationship between both authors has already been investigated by the critic. We must not forget that Carr was still in a learning period when this book was published, he was twenty-eight years old and his career was at its early stages. However, it can be enjoyed as if it had  been written by a more experienced author. Besides I was thinking, as I was reading it, that the plot was structured in a Matryoshka or Russian doll shape, what Xavier Lechard has confirmed me this morning when I read his article, here. And it just remains me to highlight Carr’s skill to create the perfect atmosphere in which the story unfolds. If to all this we add Carr’s talents as a storyteller, I can only but recommend reading this novel. Unfortunately, this book is out-of-print but there are used copies available. And the good news is that, if my information is correct, a new edition of this book by American Mystery Classics is scheduled to be release on 2 February 2021.

The Plague Court Murders has been reviewed, among others, at The Grandest Game in the World, The Green Capsule, Death Can Read, Dead Yesterday, ahsweetmysteryblog, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Classic Mysteries, My Reader’s Block, and Vintage Pop Fictions.

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Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Morrow Mystery (USA), 1934)

About the Author: Born in 1906, John Dickson Carr was an American author of Golden Age ‘British-style’ detective stories. He published his first novel, It Walks by Night, in 1930 while studying in Paris to become a barrister. Shortly thereafter he settled in his wife’s native England where he wrote prolifically, averaging four novels per year until the end of WWII. Well-known as a master of the locked-room mystery, Carr created eccentric sleuths to solve apparently impossible crimes. His two most popular series detectives were Dr. Fell, who debuted in Hag’s Nook in 1933, and barrister Sir Henry Merrivale (published under the pseudonym of Carter Dickson) who first appeared in The Plague Court Murders (1934) Eventually, Carr left England and moved to South Carolina where he continued to write, publishing several more novels and contributing a regular column to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. In his lifetime, Carr received the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and was one of only two three Americans ever admitted into the prestigious – but almost exclusively British – Detection Club. He died in 1977.

Sir Henry Merrivale selected bibliography: (Novels) The Plague Court Murders (1934)
The White Priory Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), She Died a Lady (1943), He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944), The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945), My Late Wives (1946), Night at the Mocking Widow (1950). And a collection of short stories Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

John Dickson Carr page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki 

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

Sir Henry Merrivale at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

El Patio de la Plaga, de John Dickson Carr como Carter Dickson

coverDescripción del libro: El primer misterio de Sir Henry Merrivale del autor de la Edad de Oro John Dickson Carr. Cuando Dean Halliday se convence de que el fantasma maligno de Louis Playge está rondando la finca de su familia en Londres, invita a Ken Blake y al Detective Inspector Masters a Plague Court para investigar. Al llegar de noche, encuentran a su tía y a su prometida preparándose para exorcizar al espíritu en una sesión dirigida por el vidente Roger Darworth. Mientras Darworth se encierra en una casa de piedra detrás de Plague Court, la sesión prosigue y al final lo encuentran espantosamente asesinado. Pero, ¿quién o qué pudo haberlo matado? Todas las ventanas y puertas estaban cerradas y bloqueadas, y nadie podría haber entrado. El único que puede resolver el crimen en esta historia extraña y escalofriante es el experto en cuartos cerrados Sir Henry Merrivale.

Mi opinión: La historia comienza el 6 de septiembre de 1930. La cuenta Ken Blake y gira en torno a una casa llamada Plague Court que pertenece a la familia de su amigo Dean Halliday. Halliday cree que la casa está embrujada por el fantasma de Louis Playge, un verdugo que vivió en el siglo XVII y se sospecha que fue enterrado allí. Halliday convence a Blake y al inspector Masters de Scotland Yard, este último extraoficialmente, para que pasen la noche allí. El propósito es averiguar si lo que ven o escuchan se puede explicar racionalmente. Ese mismo día los periódicos matutinos traen la noticia de la desaparición de una daga de acero del Museo de Londres. La daga había sido donada al Museo por J. G. Halliday, Esq, a principios de siglo y se cree que fue propiedad de Louis Playge. Finalmente, nos enteramos de que un charlatán llamado Roger Darworth ha convencido a la tía de Halliday, Lady Anne Benning, de que puede liberar a Court Plague del hechizo de Playge.

Esa noche, cuando Blake, junto con Halliday y Masters, llegan a Court Plague, encuentran que Lady Benning, la prometida de Halliday, la señorita Marion Latimer, su hermano Ted y un viejo amigo de la familia llamado Major Featherton están reunidos allí. Han venido a Court Plague siguiendo las instrucciones de Darworth. El plan de Darworth es confinarse en una casita de piedra en el patio a medianoche para pasar la noche allí mientras todos los demás esperan afuera. De esta forma, realizará un exorcismo para hacer desaparecer el hechizo antes del amanecer. Ni siquiera el asistente de Darworth, un niño llamado Joseph, que lo acompaña por sus habilidades como médium, se quedará con él durante su encierro. Pero algo sale terriblemente mal y Darworth muere apuñalado dentro de la casa, cuya puerta y ventanas estaban todas firmemente cerradas por dentro. Este macabro hallazgo desafía todas las leyes de la lógica y parece inexplicable. Además, la daga de Louis Playge aparece tirada en el suelo junto al cuerpo y no se encuentra una sola huella en la gran mancha de barro que se extiende por todo el exterior de la casa. Este es, sin duda, un caso hecho a medida para Sir Henry Merrivale.

Incluso a riesgo de sonar repetitivo, The Plague Court Murders es el primer misterio de Sir Henry Merrivale. Sin embargo, solo hará su aparición después de la segunda mitad de la historia, momento en el que comienza a desempeñar el papel principal. También resulta curioso que la primera edición de esta novela estuviera subtitulada Un misterio del inspector jefe Masters, y podríamos preguntarnos si John Dickson Carr cambió de opinión mientras la escribía. Sea como fuere, entre 1934 y 1955, Sir Henry Merrivale estará presente en un total de veintidós novelas y varias novelas cortas, recopiladas en 1991 por Douglas Greene bajo el título Merrivale, March and Murder.

No hay mucho más que pueda agregar a lo que ya se ha dicho sobre este libro. Me gusta mucho la mezcla perfecta entre realidad y leyenda, lo racional y lo irracional, lo que me ha recordado a las novelas actuales de Fred Vargas. Me pregunto si esta posible relación entre ambos autores ya ha sido investigada por la crítica. No debemos olvidar que Carr todavía estaba en un período de aprendizaje cuando se publicó este libro, tenía veintiocho años y su carrera estaba en sus primeras etapas. Sin embargo, se puede disfrutar como si hubiera sido escrito por un autor más experimentado. Además pensaba, mientras lo leía, que la trama estaba estructurada en forma de Matryoshka o muñeca rusa, lo que Xavier Lechard me ha confirmado esta mañana cuando leí su artículo, aquí. Y solo me queda destacar la habilidad de Carr para crear la atmósfera perfecta en la que se desarrolla la historia. Si a todo esto le sumamos el talento de Carr como narrador, solo puedo recomendar la lectura de esta novela. Desafortunadamente, este libro está descatalogado pero hay copias usadas disponibles. Y la buena noticia es que, si mi información es correcta, está programada la publicación de una nueva edición de este libro de American Mystery Classics el 2 de febrero de 2021.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr, nacido en 1906, fue un autor estadounidense de novelas policiacas al estilo británico de la Edad de Oro. Publicó su primera novela, It Walks by Night, en 1930 mientras estudiaba en París para convertirse en abogado. Poco después se instaló en la Inglaterra natal de su esposa, donde escribió prolíficamente, con un promedio de cuatro novelas por año hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Conocido como un maestro del misterio del cuarto cerrado, Carr creó excéntricos detectives para resolver crímenes aparentemente imposibles. Sus dos detectives de series más populares fueron Dr. Fell, que debutó en Hag’s Nook en 1933, y el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale (publicados bajo el seudónimo de Carter Dickson), quien apareció por primera vez en The Plague Court Murders (1934) Finalmente, Carr dejó Inglaterra y se mudó a Carolina del Sur, donde continuó escribiendo, publicando varias novelas más y contribuyendo con una columna regular al Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. En vida, Carr recibió el más alto honor de los Mystery Writers of America, el Grand Master Award, y fue uno de los dos tres únicos estadounidenses admitidos en el prestigioso, pero casi exclusivamente británico, Detection Club. Murió en 1977.

Bibliografía selecccionada de Sir Henry Merrivale: The Plague Court Murders (1934) El patio de la plaga, The White Priory Murders (1934) Sangre en el espejo de la Reina, The Red Widow Murders (1935) Los crímenes de la viuda roja, The Unicorn Murders (1935) Los crímenes del unicornio, The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936) Los crímenes de polichinela,The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938) La ventana de Judas, Death in Five Boxes (1938) Muerte en cinco cajas, The Reader is Warned (1939) Advertencia al lector, She Died a Lady (1943) Murió como una dama, He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944) Empezó entre fieras, The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945) La lámpara de bronce / El señor de las hechicerías, My Late Wives (1946) Mis mujeres muertas, Night at the Mocking Widow (1950) La noche de la viuda burlona. Y en una coleccion de novelas cortas Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

John Dickson Carr (1906-1977)

JohnDicksonCarrJohn Dickson Carr was born on November 30, 1906, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the son of Julia Carr and Wooda Nicolas Carr. His father, a lawyer and politician, served in Congress from 1913 to 1915. After four years at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, John Carr attended Haverford College and became editor of the student literary magazine, The Haverfordian. In 1928, he went to France to study at the Sorbonne, but he preferred writing and completed his first books, a historical novel that he destroyed, and Grand Guignol, a Bencolin novella that was soon published in The Haverfordian. Expanded, it became It Walks by Night, published by Harper and Brothers in 1930.

In 1932, Carr married an Englishwoman, Clarice Cleaves, moved to Great Britain, and for about a decade wrote an average of four novels a year. To handle his prolific output, he began to write books under the nonsecret pseudonym of Carter Dickson. In 1939, Carr found another outlet for his work—the radio. He wrote scripts for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and after the United States government ordered him home in 1941 to register for military service, he wrote radio dramas for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) program Suspense. Ironically, the government then sent him back to Great Britain, and for the rest of the war he was on the staff of the BBC, writing propaganda pieces and mystery dramas. After the war, Carr worked with Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate to produce the first authorized biography of Sherlock Holmes’s creator.

A lifelong conservative, Carr disliked the postwar Labour government, and in 1948 he moved to Mamaroneck, New York. In 1951, the Tories won the election, and Carr returned to Great Britain. Except for some time spent in Tangiers working with Adrian Doyle on a series of pastiches of Sherlock Holmes, Carr alternated between Great Britain and Mamaroneck for the next thirteen years before moving to Greenville, South Carolina. Suffering from increasing illness, Carr ceased writing novels after 1972, but he contributed a review column to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and was recognized as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1963. He died on February 27, 1977, in Greenville. (Source: “John Dickson Carr – Biography” Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition Ed. Carl Rollyson. eNotes.com, Inc. 2008 eNotes.com 10 Mar, 2020 http://www.enotes.com/topics/john-dickson-carr#biography-biography)

John Dickson Carr also published using the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn. Carr’s two major detective characters, Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale, are superficially quite similar. Both are large, upper-class, eccentric Englishmen somewhere between middle-aged and elderly. Dr. Fell, who is fat and walks only with the aid of two canes, was clearly modeled on the British writer G. K. Chesterton. Henry Merrivale or “H.M.”, on the other hand, although stout and with a majestic “corporation”, is active physically and is feared for his ill-temper and noisy rages. Besides Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale, Carr mysteries feature two other series detectives: Henri Bencolin and Colonel March. (Source: Wikipedia)

Bibliography:

Henri Bencolin Novels: It Walks By Night (1930); Castle Skull (1931); The Lost Gallows (1931); The Waxworks Murder (1932); The Four False Weapons (1937).

Henri Bencolin Short Stories: “The Shadow of the Goat”; “The Fourth Suspect”; “The End of Justice”; and “Murder in Number Four”.

Dr Gideon Fell Novels: Hag’s Nook (1933); The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933); The Eight of Swords (1934); The Blind Barber (1934); Death-Watch (1935); The Hollow Man aka The Three Coffins (1935); The Arabian Nights Murder (1936); To Wake the Dead (1938); The Crooked Hinge (1938); The Black Spectacles aka The Problem of the Green Capsule (1939); The Problem of the Wire Cage (1939); The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940); The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941); Death Turns the Tables (1941); Till Death Do Us Part (1944); He Who Whispers (1946); The Sleeping Sphinx (1947); Below Suspicion (1949); The Dead Man’s Knock (1958); In Spite of Thunder (1960); The House at Satan’s Elbow (1965); Panic in Box C (1966); and Dark of the Moon (1968).

Dr Gideon Fell Short Stories: Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories (1947); The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); and Fell and Foul Play (1991).

Other novels as John Dickson Carr: Poison in Jest (1932); The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Bride of Newgate (1950); The Devil in Velvet (1951); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952); Captain Cut-Throat (1955); Patrick Butler for the Defense (1956); Fire, Burn! (1957); Scandal at High Chimneys (1959); The Witch of the Low Tide (1961); The Demoniacs (1962); Most Secret (1964); Papa La-Bas (1968); The Ghosts’ of High Noon (1970); Deadly Hall (1971); and The Hungry Goblin (1972).

Other novels as Carter Dickson: The Bowstring Murders (1934); The Third Bullet (1937); Fatal Descent aka Drop to His Death (with John Rhode, 1939); The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Fear Is the Same (1956)

Sir Herry Merrivale Novels: The Plague Court Murders (1934); The White Priory Murders (1934); The Red Widow Murders (1935); The Unicorn Murders (1935); The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936); The Ten Teacups (1937); The Judas Window (1938); Death in Five Boxes (1938); The Reader is Warned (1939); And So to Murder (1940); Murder in the Submarine Zone (1940); Seeing is Believing (1941); The Gilded Man (1942); She Died a Lady (1943); He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944); The Curse of the Bronze Lamp (1945); My Late Wives (1946); The Skeleton in the Clock (1948); A Graveyard to Let (1949); Night at the Mocking Widow (1950); Behind the Crimson Blind (1952), and The Cavalier’s Cup (1953).

Sir Herry Merrivale Short Stories: Merrivale, March and Murder (1991).

Other works as John Dickson Carr: The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1949); The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes (1954).

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Morrow Mystery (USA), 1934)

The Plague Court Murders is a mystery novel by the American writer John Dickson Carr, who wrote it under the name of Carter Dickson. The first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery, it is a locked room mystery of the subtype known as an “impossible crime”.

Carr’s career as a published novelist began impressively with It Walk by Night (1930), which introduced the saturnine French investigator, Henri Bencolin. Many of his books about Sir Henry Merrivale – another detective with a flair for solving impossible crimes – equal the Fells novels in terms of quality; a notable example is The Judas Window (1938). The Merrivale books were generally published as by Carter Dickson; he also wrote as Roger Fairbairn. After the Second World War, he turned increasingly to historical mysteries, and his final book, The Hungry Goblin (1972) – sadly not in the same league as his early masterpieces – features Wilkie Collins as a detective. (Martin Edwards, The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books)

Carr’s great virtues as a writer were fourfold. He is a master creator of plots. He is able to create supernatural atmosphere with uncanny skill. His comic passages are very funny. And he is a good storyteller. (John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost).

John Dickson Carr at gadetection

Further reading: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (1995) is an excellent biography and critical study of Carr’s writings. It covers all of Carr’s novels and short stories, as well as many of Carr’s radio plays. Greene is especially illuminating about the development of Carr’s story ideas from one work to the next, tracing connections between Carr’s radio plays, and novels, for instance. He also has much to say about Carr’s characters, and their human, social, and emotional attitudes.