My Book Notes: He Who Whispers, 1946 (Dr Gideon Fell # 16) by John Dickson Carr

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en español.

International Polygonics, Ltd. 1986. Book Format: Paperback. Book Size: 166 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-930330-38-5. First published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton, London, 1946 and in the US by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1946.

5123RYN2AAL._SX277_BO1,204,203,200_Plot summary: A few months after the end of World War II, Miles Hammond is invited to the first meeting of the Murder Club in five years. When he arrives, no one else is there except Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud. When no one else shows up, Rigaud tells the story of Fay Seton. Seton was a young woman working for the Brooke family. She fell in love with Harry Brooke and the two became engaged, but Harry’s father, Howard, did not approve. One day, he agreed to meet Fay in a tower—all that remained of a burned-out chateau. It was a secure location on a lonely waterfront, and was the perfect place for such a meeting. Harry and Professor Rigaud left Howard alone at ten minutes before four. When they returned, fifteen minutes later, Howard had been stabbed, and the sword-cane that did it was found in two pieces beside his body. At first it seemed an open-and-shut case, but a family that was picnicking a few feet from the entrance of the tower swore that no one entered the tower in those fifteen minutes, that no boat came near the tower, and no one could have climbed up, because the nearest window was fifteen feet off the ground. The only one with any motive was Fay Seton, who was believed to be able to bring a vampire to life and terrorize people. Miles quickly becomes involved in the affair because the new librarian he just hired is Fay Seton. (Source: Wikipedia)

My Take: The story is told from the perspective of Miles Hammond, a historian recently enriched by a legacy from his uncle, owner of a legendary library. It begins in 1945 when Hammond is in London invited to a meeting at the Murder Club. A group that counts with Dr Gideon Fell among its members. When Hammond arrives at the restaurant, only two other guests are there, Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud who was supposed to be the speaker at the meeting, but none of the club members have shown up. Despite the change in plans, Professor Rigaud takes the opportunity to tell them the story of Fay Seton. Back in 1939, Fay Seton was hired to work as a secretary for Howard Brooke, an Englishman who lived in France with his wife and his son, Harry. Harry and Fay fell in love and agreed to get married. But Harry’s father did not approve their engagement and decided to pay Fay Seton to leave his son alone. Fay Seton agreed to meet him atop a circular tower. However, Howard was stabbed in the back at the top of the tower and the money disappeared. No one could explain what could have happened. No one entered the tower and the only possible entrance was guarded by several people who were picnicking. Harry died on the beach at Dunkirk in 1940, and his mother soon after. The crime remains unsolved and the money has not been found. Hammond, who happens to be in London looking for a secretary/librarian to catalogue his late uncle’s books becomes involved in the case when the person he hires for that job is none other than Fay Seton. He does not understand why he has done it and now he is afraid to regret his decision.

I don’t feel myself qualified to add anything more to what has already been said, see other reviews included in this post. This is a book that has it all, no wonder it ended up ranked first among Carr’s books in a poll run by Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora some time ago. To consider that it is just the story of an impossible crime it is clearly a misstatement. He Who Whispers is much more than just that. Besides the main impossible crime, it contains a murder attempt inspired by Cagliostro. The plot is outstanding and is perfectly crafted. Carr uses effectively the supernatural elements included in the narrative until finding a fully rational explanation to the events. The characters are very attractive, when not memorable. Carr plays fair with the reader, all the clues are in view, but he does an outstanding job so that they are barely noticed. Both, the setting and the time in which the action unfolds are wonderfully described and perfectly imbedded in the plot. The denouement is completely unexpected. In a nut shell, the story is both thrilling and touching, and its execution is flawless. A book that deserves  a place of honour on any bookshelf. A true masterpiece.

He Who Whispers has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at Mystery File, Tina Karelson at Mystery File, Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Mike at Only Detect, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books, Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora, Brad Friedman at ahsweetmysteryblog, Ben at The Green Capsule, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf.

19768

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC Harper & Brothers (USA), 1946)

About the Author: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was a prolific American-born author of detective stories who also published under the pen names Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of so-called “Golden Age” mysteries, complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. Most of his many novels and short stories feature the elucidation, by an eccentric detective, of apparently impossible, and seemingly supernatural, crimes. He was influenced in this regard by the works of Gaston Leroux and by the Father Brown stories of GK Chesterton. Carr modelled his major detective, the fat and genial lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell, on Chesterton. 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 detective (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) was the barrister Sir Henry Merrivale, who debuted in The Plague Court Murders (1934).

The following list is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive bibliography. It is just a selection of  Carr’s books I have read or l look forward to reading. Any further suggestion of books I should include is welcome

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), and The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) a collection of short stories.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), and The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) a collection of short stories.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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 Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) a collection of short stories.

Historical Mysteries: The Bride of Newgate (1950), The Devil in Velvet (1951), Fire, Burn! (1957), Deadly Hall  (1971).

Other novels as John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Further reading: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biography & critical study of his works.

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

The Locked-Room Lectures : John Dickson Carr Vs Clayton Rawson

A Room with a Clue: John Dickson Carr’s Locked-Room Lecture Revisited by John Pugmire (pdf) The Reader Is Warned: this entire article is a gigantic SPOILER, with the solutions given to many pre-1935 locked room mysteries.

El que susurra, de John Dickson Carr

28496486._SY475_Resumen de la trama: Unos meses después del final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Miles Hammond es invitado a la primera reunión en cinco años del Murder Club. Cuando llega, no hay nadie más que Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud. Cuando nadie más aparece, Rigaud cuenta la historia de Fay Seton. Seton era una joven que trabajaba para la familia Brooke. Se enamoró de Harry Brooke y los dos se comprometieron, pero el padre de Harry, Howard, no lo aprobó. Un día, acordó encontrarse con Fay en una torre que era todo lo que quedaba de un castillo incendiado. Se trataba de un lugar seguro en un paseo marítimo solitario y era el lugar perfecto para tal reunión. Harry y el profesor Rigaud dejaron a Howard solo diez minutos antes de las cuatro. Cuando regresaron, quince minutos después, Howard había sido apuñalado, y el bastón espada que lo hizo fue encontrado en dos pedazos al lado de su cuerpo. Al principio parecía un caso clarísimo, pero una familia que se encontraba de picnic a unos metros de la entrada de la torre juró que nadie entró en la torre en esos quince minutos, que ningún bote se había acercado a la torre, y que nadie pudo haber subido, porque la ventana más cercana se encontraba a cinco metros del suelo. La única con algún motivo era Fay Seton, de quien se creía que podía dar vida a un vampiro y aterrorizar a la gente. Miles se involucra rápidamente en el asunto porque la nueva bibliotecaria que acaba de contratar es Fay Seton. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Mi opinión: La historia está contada desde la perspectiva de Miles Hammond, un historiador enriquecido recientemente por un legado de su tío, propietario de una biblioteca legendaria. Comienza en 1945 cuando Hammond está en Londres invitado a una reunión en el Murder Club. Un grupo que cuenta con el Dr. Gideon Fell entre sus miembros. Cuando Hammond llega al restaurante, solo hay otros dos invitados, Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud, quien se suponía iba a ser el orador en la reunión, pero ninguno de los miembros del club se ha presentado. A pesar del cambio de planes, el profesor Rigaud aprovecha para contarles la historia de Fay Seton. En 1939, Fay Seton fue contratada para trabajar como secretaria de Howard Brooke, un inglés que vivía en Francia con su esposa y su hijo, Harry. Harry y Fay se enamoraron y acordaron casarse. Pero el padre de Harry no aprobó su compromiso y decidió pagarle a Fay Seton para que dejara a su hijo en paz. Fay Seton accedió a reunirse con él en lo alto de una torre circular. Sin embargo, Howard fue apuñalado por la espalda en la parte superior de la torre y el dinero desapareció. Nadie pudo explicar qué pudo haber sucedido. Nadie entró a la torre y la única entrada posible estaba custodiada por varias personas que estaban haciendo un picnic. Harry murió en la playa de Dunkerque en 1940, y su madre poco después. El crimen sigue sin resolverse y no se ha encontrado el dinero. Hammond, que se encuentra en Londres buscando una secretaria/bibliotecaria para catalogar los libros de su difunto tío, se ve involucrado en el caso cuando la persona que contrata para ese trabajo no es otra que Fay Seton. No entiende por qué lo ha hecho y ahora teme arrepentirse de su decisión.

No me siento capacitado para agregar nada más a lo que ya se ha dicho, vea otras reseñas incluidas en esta publicación. Este es un libro que lo tiene todo, no es de extrañar que terminó en primer lugar entre los libros de Carr en una encuesta realizada por Sergio Angelini en Tipping My Fedora hace algún tiempo. Considerar que es solo la historia de un crimen imposible es claramente un error. El que susurra es mucho más que eso. Además del principal crimen imposible, contiene un intento de asesinato inspirado en Cagliostro. La trama es sobresaliente y está perfectamente elaborada. Carr utiliza eficazmente los elementos sobrenaturales incluidos en la narrativa hasta encontrar una explicación completamente racional a los hechos. Los personajes son muy atractivos, cuando no memorables. Carr juega limpio con el lector, todas las pistas están a la vista, pero hace un trabajo sobresaliente para que apenas se noten. Tanto el escenario como el tiempo en el que se desarrolla la acción están maravillosamente descritos y perfectamente integrados en la trama. El desenlace es completamente inesperado. En pocas palabras, la historia es emocionante y conmovedora, y su ejecución es impecable. Un libro que merece un lugar de honor en cualquier estantería. Una verdadera obra maestra.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) fue un prolífico autor de historias policiacas nacido en Estados Unidos que también publicó bajo los seudónimos de Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson y Roger Fairbairn. En general, se le considera como uno de los mejores escritores de misterio de la llamada “Edad de Oro”, historias complejas basadas en tramas en las que el enigma es primordial. La mayoría de sus muchas novelas y relatos cuentan con el esclarecimiento, por un excéntrico detective, de crímenes aparentemente imposibles y aparentemente sobrenaturales. En este sentido, estuvo influenciado por las obras de Gaston Leroux y por los relatos del padre Brown de GK Chesterton. Carr modeló a su detective principal, el gordo y genial lexicógrafo Dr. Gideon Fell, en Chesterton. 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, la otra serie de detectives de Carr (publicada bajo el nombre de pluma de Carter Dickson) está protagonizada por el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934).

La siguiente lista no es, ni pretende ser, una bibliografía exhaustiva. Es sólo una selección de los libros de Carr que he leído o espero leer. Cualquier sugerencia adicional de libros que deba incluir es bienvenida.

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), y The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) una colección de relatos.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), y The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) una colección de relatos.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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) y Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) una colección de relatos.

Misterios históricos: The Devil in Velvet (1951)

Otras novelas como John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Lectura recomendada: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biografía y estudio crítico de sus obras.

My Book Notes: He Who Whispers, 1946 (Dr Gideon Fell # 16) by John Dickson Carr

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en español.

International Polygonics, Ltd. 1986. Book Format: Paperback. Book Size: 166 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-930330-38-5. First published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton, London, 1946 and in the US by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1946.

5123RYN2AAL._SX277_BO1,204,203,200_Plot summary: A few months after the end of World War II, Miles Hammond is invited to the first meeting of the Murder Club in five years. When he arrives, no one else is there except Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud. When no one else shows up, Rigaud tells the story of Fay Seton. Seton was a young woman working for the Brooke family. She fell in love with Harry Brooke and the two became engaged, but Harry’s father, Howard, did not approve. One day, he agreed to meet Fay in a tower—all that remained of a burned-out chateau. It was a secure location on a lonely waterfront, and was the perfect place for such a meeting. Harry and Professor Rigaud left Howard alone at ten minutes before four. When they returned, fifteen minutes later, Howard had been stabbed, and the sword-cane that did it was found in two pieces beside his body. At first it seemed an open-and-shut case, but a family that was picnicking a few feet from the entrance of the tower swore that no one entered the tower in those fifteen minutes, that no boat came near the tower, and no one could have climbed up, because the nearest window was fifteen feet off the ground. The only one with any motive was Fay Seton, who was believed to be able to bring a vampire to life and terrorize people. Miles quickly becomes involved in the affair because the new librarian he just hired is Fay Seton. (Source: Wikipedia)

My Take: The story is told from the perspective of Miles Hammond, a historian recently enriched by a legacy from his uncle, owner of a legendary library. It begins in 1945 when Hammond is in London invited to a meeting at the Murder Club. A group that counts with Dr Gideon Fell among its members. When Hammond arrives at the restaurant, only two other guests are there, Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud who was supposed to be the speaker at the meeting, but none of the club members have shown up. Despite the change in plans, Professor Rigaud takes the opportunity to tell them the story of Fay Seton. Back in 1939, Fay Seton was hired to work as a secretary for Howard Brooke, an Englishman who lived in France with his wife and his son, Harry. Harry and Fay fell in love and agreed to get married. But Harry’s father did not approve their engagement and decided to pay Fay Seton to leave his son alone. Fay Seton agreed to meet him atop a circular tower. However, Howard was stabbed in the back at the top of the tower and the money disappeared. No one could explain what could have happened. No one entered the tower and the only possible entrance was guarded by several people who were picnicking. Harry died on the beach at Dunkirk in 1940, and his mother soon after. The crime remains unsolved and the money has not been found. Hammond, who happens to be in London looking for a secretary/librarian to catalogue his late uncle’s books becomes involved in the case when the person he hires for that job is none other than Fay Seton. He does not understand why he has done it and now he is afraid to regret his decision.

I don’t feel myself qualified to add anything more to what has already been said, see other reviews included in this post. This is a book that has it all, no wonder it ended up ranked first among Carr’s books in a poll run by Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora some time ago. To consider that it is just the story of an impossible crime it is clearly a misstatement. He Who Whispers is much more than just that. Besides the main impossible crime, it contains a murder attempt inspired by Cagliostro. The plot is outstanding and is perfectly crafted. Carr uses effectively the supernatural elements included in the narrative until finding a fully rational explanation to the events. The characters are very attractive, when not memorable. Carr plays fair with the reader, all the clues are in view, but he does an outstanding job so that they are barely noticed. Both, the setting and the time in which the action unfolds are wonderfully described and perfectly imbedded in the plot. The denouement is completely unexpected. In a nut shell, the story is both thrilling and touching, and its execution is flawless. A book that deserves  a place of honour on any bookshelf. A true masterpiece.

He Who Whispers has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at Mystery File, Tina Karelson at Mystery File, Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Mike at Only Detect, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books, Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora, Brad Friedman at ahsweetmysteryblog, Ben at The Green Capsule, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf.

19768

(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC Harper & Brothers (USA), 1946)

About the Author: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was a prolific American-born author of detective stories who also published under the pen names Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of so-called “Golden Age” mysteries, complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. Most of his many novels and short stories feature the elucidation, by an eccentric detective, of apparently impossible, and seemingly supernatural, crimes. He was influenced in this regard by the works of Gaston Leroux and by the Father Brown stories of GK Chesterton. Carr modelled his major detective, the fat and genial lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell, on Chesterton. 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 detective (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) was the barrister Sir Henry Merrivale, who debuted in The Plague Court Murders (1934).

The following list is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive bibliography. It is just a selection of  Carr’s books I have read or l look forward to reading. Any further suggestion of books I should include is welcome

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), and The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) a collection of short stories.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), and The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) a collection of short stories.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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 Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) a collection of short stories.

Historical Mysteries: The Bride of Newgate (1950), The Devil in Velvet (1951), Fire, Burn! (1957), Deadly Hall  (1971).

Other novels as John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Further reading: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biography & critical study of his works.

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

The Locked-Room Lectures : John Dickson Carr Vs Clayton Rawson

A Room with a Clue: John Dickson Carr’s Locked-Room Lecture Revisited by John Pugmire (pdf) The Reader Is Warned: this entire article is a gigantic SPOILER, with the solutions given to many pre-1935 locked room mysteries.

El que susurra, de John Dickson Carr

28496486._SY475_Resumen de la trama: Unos meses después del final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Miles Hammond es invitado a la primera reunión en cinco años del Murder Club. Cuando llega, no hay nadie más que Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud. Cuando nadie más aparece, Rigaud cuenta la historia de Fay Seton. Seton era una joven que trabajaba para la familia Brooke. Se enamoró de Harry Brooke y los dos se comprometieron, pero el padre de Harry, Howard, no lo aprobó. Un día, acordó encontrarse con Fay en una torre que era todo lo que quedaba de un castillo incendiado. Se trataba de un lugar seguro en un paseo marítimo solitario y era el lugar perfecto para tal reunión. Harry y el profesor Rigaud dejaron a Howard solo diez minutos antes de las cuatro. Cuando regresaron, quince minutos después, Howard había sido apuñalado, y el bastón espada que lo hizo fue encontrado en dos pedazos al lado de su cuerpo. Al principio parecía un caso clarísimo, pero una familia que se encontraba de picnic a unos metros de la entrada de la torre juró que nadie entró en la torre en esos quince minutos, que ningún bote se había acercado a la torre, y que nadie pudo haber subido, porque la ventana más cercana se encontraba a cinco metros del suelo. La única con algún motivo era Fay Seton, de quien se creía que podía dar vida a un vampiro y aterrorizar a la gente. Miles se involucra rápidamente en el asunto porque la nueva bibliotecaria que acaba de contratar es Fay Seton. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Mi opinión: La historia está contada desde la perspectiva de Miles Hammond, un historiador enriquecido recientemente por un legado de su tío, propietario de una biblioteca legendaria. Comienza en 1945 cuando Hammond está en Londres invitado a una reunión en el Murder Club. Un grupo que cuenta con el Dr. Gideon Fell entre sus miembros. Cuando Hammond llega al restaurante, solo hay otros dos invitados, Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud, quien se suponía iba a ser el orador en la reunión, pero ninguno de los miembros del club se ha presentado. A pesar del cambio de planes, el profesor Rigaud aprovecha para contarles la historia de Fay Seton. En 1939, Fay Seton fue contratada para trabajar como secretaria de Howard Brooke, un inglés que vivía en Francia con su mujer y su hijo, Harry. Harry y Fay se enamoraron y acordaron casarse. Pero el padre de Harry no aprobó su compromiso y decidió pagarle a Fay Seton para que dejara a su hijo en paz. Fay Seton accedió a reunirse con él en lo alto de una torre circular. Sin embargo, Howard fue apuñalado por la espalda en la parte superior de la torre y el dinero desapareció. Nadie pudo explicar qué pudo haber sucedido. Nadie entró a la torre y la única entrada posible estaba custodiada por varias personas que estaban de picnic. Harry murió en la playa de Dunkerque y su madre poco después. El crimen sigue sin resolverse y no se ha encontrado el dinero. Hammond, que está en Londres buscando una secretaria/bibliotecaria para catalogar los libros de su difunto tío, se ve involucrado en el caso cuando la persona que contrata para ese trabajo no es otra que Fay Seton. No entiende por qué lo ha hecho y ahora teme arrepentirse de su decisión.

No me siento capacitado para agregar nada más a lo que ya se ha dicho, vea otras reseñas incluidas en esta publicación. Este es un libro que lo tiene todo, no es de extrañar que terminó en primer lugar entre los libros de Carr en una encuesta realizada por Sergio Angelini en Tipping My Fedora hace algún tiempo. Considerar que es solo la historia de un crimen imposible es claramente un error. El que susurra es mucho más que eso. Además del principal crimen imposible, contiene un intento de asesinato inspirado en Cagliostro. La trama es sobresaliente y está perfectamente elaborada. Carr utiliza eficazmente los elementos sobrenaturales incluidos en la narrativa hasta encontrar una explicación completamente racional a los hechos. Los personajes son muy atractivos, cuando no memorables. Carr juega limpio con el lector, todas las pistas están a la vista, pero hace un trabajo sobresaliente para que apenas se noten. Tanto el escenario como el tiempo en el que se desarrolla la acción están maravillosamente descritos y perfectamente integrados en la trama. El desenlace es completamente inesperado. En pocas palabras, la historia es emocionante y conmovedora, y su ejecución es impecable. Un libro que merece un lugar de honor en cualquier estantería. Una verdadera obra maestra.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) fue un prolífico autor de historias policiacas nacido en Estados Unidos que también publicó bajo los seudónimos de Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson y Roger Fairbairn. En general, se le considera como uno de los mejores escritores de misterio de la llamada “Edad de Oro”, historias complejas basadas en tramas en las que el enigma es primordial. La mayoría de sus muchas novelas y relatos cuentan con el esclarecimiento, por un excéntrico detective, de crímenes aparentemente imposibles y aparentemente sobrenaturales. En este sentido, estuvo influenciado por las obras de Gaston Leroux y por los relatos del padre Brown de GK Chesterton. Carr modeló a su detective principal, el gordo y genial lexicógrafo Dr. Gideon Fell, en Chesterton. 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, la otra serie de detectives de Carr (publicada bajo el nombre de pluma de Carter Dickson) está protagonizada por el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934).

La siguiente lista no es, ni pretende ser, una bibliografía exhaustiva. Es sólo una selección de los libros de Carr que he leído o espero leer. Cualquier sugerencia adicional de libros que deba incluir es bienvenida.

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), y The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) una colección de relatos.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), y The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) una colección de relatos.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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) y Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) una colección de relatos.

Misterios históricos: The Devil in Velvet (1951)

Otras novelas como John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Lectura recomendada: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biografía y estudio crítico de sus obras.

My Book Notes: Till Death Do Us Part, 1944 (Dr Gideon Fell #15) by John Dickson Carr

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Penguin Books #950, 1953. Book Format: Paperback. 280 pages. ISBN: N/A. Originally published by Hamish Hamilton, London in 1944 and by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1944.

md30258469357Inside Back Cover Blurb: The body was found in the study. presumably – as it sat, or slumped, directly in line with a neat round hole in the window – shot through the head. Moreover, Dick Markham has seen the shot fired over the garden wall a few moments before he broke into the room; but inside he discovered that there was, in fact, no bullet-wound – instead a hypodermic syringe, a strong smell of bitter almonds, windows and door locked from the inside, and, inexplicably, a box of drawing-pins split all over the floor. Suicide? Dr Fell,summoned to identify the body, found the little village of Six Ashes humming with gossip and rumours, all suggesting murder, and all pointing at Lesley Grant, the girl who had become engaged to Dick Markham two days before the tragedy occurred in Gallows Lane. It turns out to be one of the benevolent Dr Fell’s most difficult cases, and the story of its unravelling once more justifies J. B. Priestley’s comment that the author ‘ has a sense of the macabre which lifts him high above the average run of detective story writers’.

From the Introduction by Martin Edwards (The British Library, 2021): Till Death Do Us Part was  first published in 1944, but the events of the story take place before the beginning of the Second World War. The memorable first chapter carries a touch of nostalgia, as well as plentiful evidence of its American author’s love of England and the English way of life. Those opening pages also set the scene splendidly for one of the most tantalizing ‘impossible crime’ detective novels ever written by John Dickson Carr, the king of the locked room mystery. 

My Take: Coinciding with the recent launch of Till Death Do Us Part new edition by The British Library Publishing on 10 August 2021, I dusted off my book shelf an old and battered Penguin edition of this book and started to read it. Simultaneously, I downloaded the new edition on my Kindle to keep it in better conditions.

Dick Markham, a playwriter of psychological thrillers, has just got engaged to Lesley Grant in the hamlet of Six Ashes. He feels the happiest man on earth. On the way to a cricket match, they stop at the entrance to Lord Ashe’s park where a garden party has been set. The main attraction at the garden party is a fortune-teller and Miss Grant wants to visit him. She was told he’s very good. Few know that the fortune-teller really is Sir Harvey Gilman, the Home Office pathologist and crime expert, who has recently rented a house in Six Ashes for holidays. Lesley, unknowing his true identity, comes into the tent while Dick remains outside. The fortune-teller admits no more than one at a time. While he is waiting, Dick takes a rifle from a nearby attraction.  Suddenly, Lesley comes out in horror. In her agitation, she grabs Dick’s rifle and it goes off with such bad luck that Sir Harvey Gilman turns out wounded. Next, Dr Middlesworth and Major Price bring him home.  Everyone believe he’s been seriously injured, but the wound is only superficial. Although, this detail is kept hidden. At night, Sir Harvey wants to see Dick, without anyone’s knowledge, to tell him who Miss Lesley Grant really is. Her real name is Jordan and she is a poisoner. She had been married twice and had become engaged to a third man. All three of them died by an injection of prussic acid, in a locked room. She was the main suspect, though nothing could be prove against her and was never formally charged. All three cases were considered suicides. The next morning, Sir Harvey is found dead in a locked room, poisoned by an injection of prussic acid. Dr Gideon Fell is summoned to assist in the investigation, but what he says after seeing the corpse of Sir Harvey turns the case upside down.

Till Death Do Us Part is a really gratifying locked room mystery. What has surprised me the most is that, over time, this novel is rising in the ranking of John Dickson Carr’s mysteries and it is now considered among his best works. Regretfully, I haven’t read yet enough of Carr’s novels to support this, but from what some reviewers are saying, I wouldn’t be at all surprised that this could be true. The twists and turns of the plot work out very well, the reading is tremendously engaging, and the story is quite haunting. Besides even the smallest detail is precisely crafted. Ultimately a book that we shouldn’t miss and that, undoubtedly, deserves several re-readings. 

Till Death Do Us Part has been reviewed, among others, by Bev Hankins at My Raeder’s Block, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, Steve at Mystery File, Martin Edwards at ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, thegreencapsule at The Green Capsule, Dan at The Reader is Warned, Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora, Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, deadyesterday at Dead Yesterday, TomCat at Beneath the Satins of Time, Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf, and James Scott Byrnside.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Harper & Brothers (USA), 1944)

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)

The following list is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive bibliography. It is just a selection of  Carr’s books I have read or l look forward to reading. Any further suggestion of books I should include is welcome

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), and  The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) a collection of short stories.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), and The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) a collection of short stories.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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 Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) a collection of short stories.

Historical Mysteries: The Bride of Newgate (1950), The Devil in Velvet (1951), Fire, Burn! (1957), Deadly Hall  (1971).

Other novels as John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Further reading: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biography & critical study of his works.

The British Library publicity page

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

The Locked-Room Lectures : John Dickson Carr Vs Clayton Rawson

A Room with a Clue: John Dickson Carr’s Locked-Room Lecture Revisited by John Pugmire (pdf) The Reader Is Warned: this entire article is a gigantic SPOILER, with the solutions given to many pre-1935 locked room mysteries.

Hasta que la muerte nos separe, de John Dickson Carr

9789500437288De la contraportada interior: El cuerpo fue encontrado en el estudio. presumiblemente, mientras se sentaba o se desplomaba, justo en línea con un pulcro agujero redondo en la ventana, de un tiro hacia la cabeza. Además, Dick Markham ha visto el tiro que habia sido disparado sobre el muro del jardín unos momentos antes de irrumpir en la habitación; pero en el interior descubrió que, de hecho, no había ninguna herida de bala, sino una jeringa hipodérmica, un fuerte olor a almendras amargas, ventanas y puertas cerradas por dentro e, inexplicablemente, una caja de chinchetas dispersas por toda la superficie del suelo. ¿Suicidio? El Dr. Fell, llamado para identificar el cuerpo, encontró el pequeño pueblo de Six Ashes lleno de chismes y rumores, todos sugiriendo un asesinato, y apuntando a Lesley Grant, la chica que se había comprometido con Dick Markham dos días antes de que ocurriera la tragedia en Gallows Lane. Resulta ser uno de los casos más difíciles del benevolente Dr. Fell, y la historia de su desenlace una vez más justifica el comentario de J. B. Priestley de que el autor “tiene un sentido de lo macabro que lo sitúa muy por encima del promedio de escritores de historias de detectives”.

De la Introducción de Martin Edwards: Hasta que la muerte nos separe se publicó por primera vez en 1944, pero los sucesos de la historia tienen lugar antes del comienzo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. El memorable primer capítulo lleva un toque de nostalgia, así como abundantes pruebas del amor por Inglaterra y por el estilo de vida inglés de su autor estadounidense. Esas páginas iniciales también preparan el escenario espléndidamente para una de las novelas de detectives de “crímenes imposibles” más seductoras jamás escritas por John Dickson Carr, el rey del misterio del cuarto cerrado.

Mi opinión: Coincidiendo con el reciente lanzamiento de la nueva edición de Till Death Do Us Part por The British Library Publishing el 10 de agosto de 2021, desempolvé de mi estantería una vieja y maltratada edición de Penguin de este libro y comencé a leerlo. Simultáneamente, descargué la nueva edición en mi Kindle para mantenerla en mejores condiciones.

Dick Markham, un dramaturgo de thillers psicológicos, acaba de comprometerse con Lesley Grant en la aldea de Six Ashes. Se siente el hombre más feliz de la tierra. De camino a un partido de cricket, se detienen en la entrada del parque de Lord Ashe, donde se ha organizado una fiesta en el jardín. La atracción principal de la fiesta es un adivino y la señorita Grant quiere visitarlo. Le dijeron que es muy bueno. Pocos saben que el adivino es realmente Sir Harvey Gilman, el patólogo y experto en delitos del Ministerio del Interior, que recientemente ha alquilado una casa en Six Ashes para pasar las vacaciones. Lesley, sin saber su verdadera identidad, entra en la carpa mientras Dick permanece afuera. El adivino no admite más que de uno en uno. Mientras espera, Dick toma un rifle de una atracción cercana. De repente, Lesley sale horrorizada. En su agitación, agarra el rifle de Dick y se dispara con tan mala suerte que Sir Harvey Gilman resulta herido. A continuación, el Dr. Middlesworth y el Mayor Price lo llevan a casa. Todos creen que ha sido herido de gravedad, pero la herida es solo superficial. Aunque, este detalle se mantiene oculto. Por la noche, Sir Harvey quiere ver a Dick, sin que nadie lo sepa, para decirle quién es realmente la señorita Lesley Grant. Su verdadero nombre es Jordan y es una envenenadora. Se había casado dos veces y se había comprometido con un tercer hombre. Los tres murieron por una inyección de ácido prúsico, en una habitación cerrada. Ella era la principal sospechosa, aunque no se pudo probar nada en su contra y nunca fue acusada formalmente. Los tres casos se consideraron suicidios. A la mañana siguiente, Sir Harvey es encontrado muerto en una habitación cerrada, envenenado por una inyección de ácido prúsico. El Dr. Gideon Fell es convocado para ayudar en la investigación, pero lo que dice después de ver el cadáver de Sir Harvey da un vuelco al caso.

Hasta que la muerte nos separe es un misterio de cuarto cerrado realmente gratificante. Lo que más me ha sorprendido es que, con el tiempo, esta novela va ascendiendo en el ranking de los misterios de John Dickson Carr y ahora está considerada entre sus mejores obras. Lamentablemente, todavía no he leído suficientes novelas de Carr para respaldar esto, pero por lo que dicen algunos críticos, no me sorprendería en absoluto que esto pudiera ser cierto. Los giros y vueltas de la trama funcionan muy bien, la lectura es tremendamente atractiva y la historia es bastante inquietante. Además, hasta el más mínimo detalle está elaborado con precisión. En definitiva un libro que no debemos perdernos y que, sin duda, merece varias relecturas.

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) fue el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934). (Fuente: Goodreads)

La siguiente lista no es, ni pretende ser, una bibliografía exhaustiva. Es sólo una selección de los libros de Carr que he leído o espero leer. Cualquier sugerencia adicional de libros que deba incluir es bienvenida.

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), y The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) una colección de relatos.

Dr Gideon Fell: 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 aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), y The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) una colección de relatos.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): 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 aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), 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) y Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) una colección de relatos.

Misterios históricos: The Devil in Velvet (1951)

Otras novelas como John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Lectura recomendada: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biografía y estudio crítico de sus obras.

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 Corpse in the Waxworks: A Paris Mystery (aka The Waxworks Murder), 1932 (Henri Bencolin #4) by John Dickson Carr

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British Library Publishing, 2021. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 4740 KB. Print Length: 259 pages. ASIN: B08SQ189TP. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6782-0. With an introduction by Martin Edwards, 2021. The Corpse in the Waxworks was originally published in 1932 by Harper & Brothers, New York and London, and it was published in the UK as The Waxworks Murder by Hamish Hamilton, London, in 1932. The fourth John Dickson Carr’s novel featuring his series detective Henri Bencolin of the Parisian police. This new edition also includes “The Murder in Number Four”, a rare Inspector Bencolin short story, originally published in The Haverfordian, June 1928..

descarga (2)Book Description: Last night Mademoiselle Duchêne was seen heading into the Gallery of Horrors at the Musée Augustin waxworks, alive. Today she was found in the Seine, murdered. The museum’s proprietor, long perturbed by the unnatural vitality of his figures, claims that he saw one of them following the victim into the dark – a lead that Henri Bencolin, head of the Paris police and expert of ‘impossible’ crimes, cannot possibly resist. Surrounded by the eerie noises of the night, Bencolin prepares to enter the ill-fated waxworks, his associate Jeff Marle and the victim’s fiancé in tow. Waiting within, beneath the glass-eyed gaze of a leering waxen satyr, is a gruesome discovery and the first clues of a twisted and ingenious mystery.

My Take: The Corpse in the Waxworks, like the three previous novels featuring Henri Bencolin, is narrated by Jeff Marle. It comes after Castle Skull and precedes Poison in Jest, also published in 1932, a non-series novel narrated as well by Jeff Marle in which Herny Bencolin is only mentioned in passing. The Corpse in the Waxworks makes up the so-called Bencolin Quartet, the most enigmatic part of Carr’s works according to Xavier Lechard. A year later Dr Fell will make his first public appearance in Hag’s Nook, and, in 1934, Sir Henry Merrivale will debut in The Plague Court Murders (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson), his two best-known fictional characters. The reasons for Carr to drop his Bencolin character are subject to all kind of interpretations. It is though true that he will return in The Four False Weapons, published in 1937, my impression is that this novel is quite different from the previous four, but I have not read it yet. It should be noted that after being out-of-print in many years, all four novels are now available thanks to The British Library Crime Classics.

After a superb opening: “Bencolin was not wearing his evening clothes, and so they new that nobody was in danger”, Carr has set the scene for what will come next. Soon Bencolin is investigating the murder of a young woman whose corpse was fished out of the River Seine. She was bruised, beaten, and had died stabbed in the back.  She was Mlle Odette Duchêne, the daughter of the late Cabinet Minister. She was last seen alive by her fiancé, Captain Chaumont, going into the Musée Augustin, the oldest waxwork museum in Paris, and she did not come out again. According to Captain Chaumont, yesterday they were supposed to have had tea together with Mlle Claudine Martel, a friend of hers, but she cancelled their appointment without giving any explanation to either one of them. Sensing there was something wrong, Captain Chaumont went to her house where he saw her taking a taxi to the wax museum and he followed her. Although it was near closing time, she entered while he remained outside waiting for her, but he never saw her again. Apparently, it was not the first time such a thing has occurred, six months ago another girl went into the Musée Augustin, and was not seen coming out.

Shortly afterwards, Bencolin, along with Jeff Marle and Captain Chaumont, begin their investigation by visiting the museum and Marle takes the opportunity a look around the wax figures. At the Gallery of Horrors one sculpture in particular draws his attention, the satyr and more specifically the woman in his arms. But when he learns that there’s no woman in the satyr’s arms, he realizes there is a woman and she’s dead. The victim is non other than Claudine Martel, Odette’s best friend, another daughter of a former Cabinet Minister, the Comte de Martel. The few available clues lead to “The Club of the Silver Key”, a disreputable private club for those who can afford it, located in front of the Waxwork Museum right across a little-transited alleyway. However, given its peculiar characteristics, it will not be easy to get in.

As Martin Edwards reminds us in his Introduction: ‘There is no locked room puzzle or impossible crime scenario in this particular story, but for Green , a perceptive commentator [and Carr’s biographer] it “is probably the most tightly plotted of the Bencolin books. The crime and the setting are perfectly integrated, the plotting convoluted, the puzzle element beautifully handles, and the final solution surprising.”

At this point, I would also like to add here Xavier Lechard’s article, A CritiCarr Study, posted on his blog, when he says that:

The first four Bencolin novels are a declaration of intent and perhaps the most radical expression of his views. On the surface they follow the traditional model of a puzzle solved by an omniscient detective, with all or almost all the clues given to the reader. The treatment however is anything but traditional. Critics have used the word « nightmarish » to describe the quartet and it may be the best way to describe their violently anti-naturalistic, increasingly dark and gruesome atmosphere. Carr often walked the border between the mystery and fantasy genres over his career, but rarely did he come as close to crossing it altogether as he did in the Bencolins. The message they send to his readers is clear: I do what I want to do, to hell with verisimilitude and probability and don’t let the door hit you on the way out if you don’t like it. The author’s youth probably accounts in a large part for that radicalism but Carr didn’t mellow over the years; he just added a few more drinks to his cocktail.

In short, I have very much enjoyed reading the four Bencolin books in the series and, probably, The Corpse in the Waxworks is my favourite followed closely by The Lost Gallows, but that’s just a matter of personal tastes. Even though, in my view, it gets pretty close to be almost a masterpiece. In any case, The Corpse in the Waxworks is a highly entertaining read and, therefore, highly recommended.

The Corpse in the Waxworks has been reviewed, among others, at The Grandest Game in the World, Mystery File, Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Vintage Pop Fictions, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’, Clothes in Books, The Invisible Event, The Green Capsule, Reactions to Reading and In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Harper & Brothers (USA), 1932)

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Hamish Hamilton(UK), 1932)

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); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931 – not published in the UK until 1973); The Waxworks Murder apa The Corpse in the Waxworks (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

John Dickson Carr page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

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

El crimen de las figuras de cera , de John Dickson Carr

cc50c1a85b121c712ad0b444b797e6Descripción del libro: Anoche, Mademoiselle Duchêne fue vista entrando en la Galería de los Horrores del Museo Augustin, con vida. Hoy fue encontrada en el Sena, asesinada. El propietario del museo, perturbado durante mucho tiempo por la vitalidad antinatural de sus figuras, afirma que vio a una de ellas siguiendo a la víctima en la oscuridad, una pista que Henri Bencolin, jefe de la policía de París y experto en crímenes  “imposibles”, no puede soportar. Rodeado por los inquietantes ruidos de la noche, Bencolin se prepara para entrar en el desventurado museo de cera, con su colaborador Jeff Marle y el prometido de la víctima. Dentro les espera, bajo la mirada acristalada de un lascivo sátiro de cera,  un descubrimiento macabro y las primeras claves de un misterio retorcido e ingenioso.

Mi opinión: The Corpse in the Waxworks al igual que las tres novelas anteriores con Henri Bencolin, está narrada por Jeff Marle. Viene después de Castle Skull y precede a Poison in Jest, también publicada en 1932, una novela que no forma parte de la serie, narrada también por Jeff Marle, y en la que Herny Bencolin solo se menciona de pasada. The Corpse in the Waxworks forma el llamado Cuarteto de Bencolin, la parte más enigmática de la obra de Carr según Xavier Lechard. Un año después, el Dr. Fell hará su primera aparición pública en Hag’s Nook y, en 1934, Sir Henry Merrivale debutará en The Plague Court Murders (publicado bajo el pseudónimo de Carter Dickson), sus dos personajes de ficción más conocidos. Las razones por las que Carr abandonó su personaje de Bencolin están sujetas a todo tipo de interpretaciones. Si bien es cierto que volverá en The Four False Weapons, publicada en 1937, mi impresión es que esta novela es bastante diferente a las cuatro anteriores, pero aún no la he leído. Cabe señalar que, después de estar agotadas durante muchos años, las cuatro novelas ya están disponibles gracias a The British Library Crime Classics.

Tras un magnífico comienzo: “Bencolin no llevaba su traje de etiqueta; así supieron que nadie corría peligro”, Carr ha preparado el terreno para lo que vendrá después. Pronto Bencolin está investigando el asesinato de una joven cuyo cadáver fue sacado del río Sena. Estaba magullada, golpeada y había muerto apuñalada por la espalda. Ella era la señorita Odette Duchêne, hija de un ya fallecido ministro del Gobierno. Su prometido, el capitán Chaumont, la vio con vida por última vez, entrando en el Musée Augustin, el museo de cera más antiguo de París, y no volvió a salir. Según el capitán Chaumont, ayer se suponía que iban a tomar el té junto con la señorita Claudine Martel, amiga suya, pero ella canceló la cita sin dar ninguna explicación a ninguno de los dos. Sintiendo que algo andaba mal, el Capitán Chaumont fue a su casa donde la vio tomar un taxi hasta el museo de cera y la siguió. Aunque era cerca de la hora de cerrar, entró mientras él se quedaba afuera esperándola, pero nunca más la volvió a ver. Al parecer, no era la primera vez que pasaba algo así, hace seis meses otra joven entró en el Musée Augustin y no se la vio salir.

Poco tiempo después, Bencolin, junto con Jeff Marle y el Capitán Chaumont, comienzan su investigación visitando el museo y Marle aprovecha la oportunidad para echar un vistazo a las figuras de cera. En la Galería de los Horrores una escultura en particular le llama la atención, el sátiro y más concretamente la mujer en sus brazos. Pero cuando se entera de que no hay una mujer en los brazos del sátiro, se da cuenta de que hay una mujer y está muerta. La víctima no es otra que Claudine Martel, la mejor amiga de Odette, otra hija de un antiguo ministro del Gobierno, el conde Martel. Las pocas pistas disponibles conducen al “Club of the Silver Key”, un club privado de mala reputación para aquellos que pueden pagarlo, ubicado frente al Museo de Cera justo al otro lado de un callejón poco transitado. Sin embargo, dadas sus peculiares características, no será fácil entrar.

Como Martin Edwards nos recuerda en su Introducción: ‘No hay un enigma de cuarto cerrado o un supuesto crimen imposible en esta historia en particular, pero para Green, un comentarista perspicaz [y biógrafo de Carr], es probablemente el libro de Bencolin mejor construido. El crimen y la ambientación se encuentran perfectamente integrados, la trama es complicada, el componente de misterio está magnificamente bien tratado y la solución final es sorprendente”.

En este punto, también me gustaría añadir aquí el artículo de Xavier Lechard, A CritiCarr Study, publicado en su blog, cuando dice que:

Las primeras cuatro novelas de Bencolin son una declaración de intenciones y quizás la expresión más radical de sus puntos de vista. En la superficie, siguen el modelo tradicional de un enigma resuelto por un detective omnisciente, con todas o casi todas las pistas ofrecidas al lector. Sin embargo, el tratamiento es todo menos tradicional. Los críticos han utilizado la palabra «pesadillesco» para describir al cuarteto y puede ser la mejor manera de describir su atmósfera violentamente antinaturalista, cada vez más oscura y espantosa. Carr a menudo caminó por la frontera entre los géneros de misterio y fantastico a lo largo de su carrera, pero rara vez estuvo tan cerca de cruzarla como lo hizo en los Bencolin. El mensaje que envían a sus lectores es claro: hago lo que quiero hacer, al diablo con la verosimilitud y con la posibilidad y no deje que la puerta le golpee al salir si no le gusta. La juventud del autor probablemente explica en gran parte ese radicalismo, pero Carr no se suavizó con los años; tan solo añadió algunas bebidas más a su cóctel.

En resumen, he disfrutado mucho leyendo los cuatro libros de Bencolin de la serie y, probablemente, The Corpse in the Waxworks es mi favorito seguido de cerca por The Lost Gallows, pero eso es solo una cuestión de gustos personales. Aunque, en mi opinión, se acerca bastante a ser casi una obra maestra. En cualquier caso, The Corpse in the Waxworks es una lectura muy entretenida y, por tanto, muy recomendable.

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); The Lost Gallows, 1931; El castillo de la calavera (Castle Skull, 1931); El crimen de las figuras de cera (The Waxworks Murder apa The Corpse in the Waxworks, 1932); y Las cuatro armas falsas (The Four False Weapons, 1937). Henri Bencolin también aparece en 4 relatos (todos ellos publicados originalmente en The 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. Libro no publicado en España. Bencolin es mencionado en Poison in Jest (1932), publicado en castellano como Veneno en broma, pero no aparece en esta novela también narrada por Marle.