"If there's one thing we can be certain about in the business, it's this: Mrs. Wainright and Mr. Sullivan walked out to the edge of that cliff, and they didn't come back."
...And as I can see now, what he said was quite true.
The evidence was very clear: the lovers must have committed suicide. There were only two sets of footprints leading across the sand to the edge of the cliff, from which they had jumped. There was even a suicide note.
Only it didn't happen that way. When the bodies were recovered from the sea, it became very clear that it had been murder.
Only the murderer would have had to be lighter than air and left no footprints anywhere.
Impossible? No. Not for John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson, at the peak of his game with She Died a Lady, originally published in 1943. It's the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
John Dickson Carr, of course, was the acknowledged master of the impossible crime mystery, the locked room, the unbroken expanse of snow or sand, the invisible murderer. If you take a look at this blog's backlist page, you'll find a pretty hefty list of reviews I've done of books by Carr. She Died a Lady features Sir Henry Merrivale, the character about whom Carr wrote when using the pen name "Carter Dickson." As readers of Carter Dickson’s mysteries know, Merrivale was brilliant in his ability to explain impossible crimes – and wildly eccentric and often quite funny in almost every other way. In She Died a Lady, H.M., as he is known, is visiting an artist who lives nearby and who is painting H.M.’s portrait. There are some very funny scenes, particularly one involving Sir Henry, a motorized wheelchair, and what seems to be all the dogs in the village – but the overall tone of the book is anything but funny. Can those impossible murders be explained? It was almost enough to fool Sir Henry Merrivale. Almost.
I don't want to say much more about it, because I want you to have the real pleasure of being misdirected and manipulated by the expert in impossible crimes. She Died a Lady is very very good. It's currently available both in paper and as an ebook. Either way, get a copy and enjoy it.
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
Continuing my participation in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. under way at the My Reader's Block blog, She Died a Lady is my entry for the square (fourth row, first column) calling for one locked room or impossible crime.