Ever since my high school days (practically pre-history, I suppose), I have been an avid fan of the locked room/impossible crime mysteries of John Dickson Carr . During the past several years, I have been frustrated and unhappy over the fact that virtually all of his books have been out of print. And I am beyond delighted that some of his best books are now in print again, with more, apparently, on the way. Which brings me to today's review, on the Classic Mysteries podcast, of Carr's "The Case of the Constant Suicides," a 1941 romp which is surely one of his best, and certainly one of his funniest books. You can listen to the full podcast review here.
"The Case of the Constant Suicides" features two locked-room murders. The primary crime involves the death of a man who falls from his locked and bolted bedroom at the top of a high tower. What happened to make him fall - if he was pushed, how did the murderer get in and out of the room? The second murder - the victim is found hanged inside a locked and bolted cottage - is equally mystifying. Fortunately, Dr. Gideon Fell, who specializes in explaining the impossible, is on hand.
And so is "the Doom of the Campbells," the name given, with excellent reason, to the family whiskey. The drinking scenes in this book have been described as "heroic," which may or may not be accurate. But the scenes - and the comic mayhem which ensues as a result of those drinks - are hilariously funny and well-written. Carr was a master at creating a frightening and eerie atmosphere - but also at using wild and even slapstick humor to leaven the mystery. "The Case of the Constant Suicides" is among the best examples of this. As always, with Carr, the reader is presented with clues to the solution of the seemingly impossible mysteries - if you can spot them.
Once again, I am offering this 1941 masterpiece as an entry in the Vintage Mysteries Reading Challenge at the My Reader's Block blog. Follow the link to see what vintage books others are reading and sharing - there are some excellent lists.