#295: Fell/Murder – Ranking the First Ten Gideon Fell Novels (1933-39) by John Dickson Carr

Fell Ten

Having recently read The Arabian Nights Murder (1936) by John Dickson Carr, the time seems ripe to rank the first ten of Carr’s novels featuring the gargantuan Dr. Gideon Fell.  Why the first 10?  Well, we’re a decimal-obsessed society, and I’ve not read the eleventh, so this seems a natural jumping-off point.  It’s not technically a top ten, right?  It’s a little more interesting than that…right?

And so, in reverse order, I give you…

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#294: The Arabian Nights Murder (1936) by John Dickson Carr

Arabian NightsIn the orchestra of John Dickson Carr’s detective fiction, his early years from It Walks by Night (1930) up to arguably The Arabian Nights Murder (1936) are very much the accordion section.  Events occur in concentrated bursts, with clues and characters squeezed together to make the notes of the plot emerge, only to then be drawn apart before inexorably squeezing together again for another dense exposit you must pore over in order to follow the necessary developments.  From The Punch and Judy Murders (1936) until the 1940s he wrote in the fine, clean, overlapping lines of the harp, and then the violins took over… but enough of this analogy, back to this book and the wheeze of a bellows working overtime.

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#287: The Equivocation of the Fiend That Lies Like Truth – Colloquialisms, Idioms, and Fair Play

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I’ve spoken a lot about fair play in detective fiction.  I defined it, I defended it (twice, in fact), we voted for the books that best exemplify it, and here we are again.  See, the idea of presentation and declaration (which, yes, I’ve also spoken about before) occurred to me in a new way, and this blog operates on a sort of “Hey, I wonder what people would think about this thing I just thought of?” principle — so here we go…

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#259: ‘The Yellow Book’ (2017) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2017] and Categorising No Footprints Murders…

Of late, I have found myself surrounded by invisible men.  Entirely fictional, of course, but there have been a lot of them: shooting someone in an empty room in You’ll Die Laughing (1945) by Bruce Elliott, disappearing into darkness in I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936) by Theodore Roscoe, vanishing from rooms and beaches in Thursday’s forthcoming Wilders Walk Away by Herbert Brean, performing miracle appearances and disappearances as I reread Rim of the Pit (1944) by Hake Talbot…everywhere I look, people are vanishing.

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#255: Abridged Too Far? Comparing Texts of The Unicorn Murders (1935) by Carter Dickson

Unicorn Murders

Among my at-times multiple versions of various John Dickson Carr titles, I  have four Mercury Mystery editions like the one shown on the left above — The Plague Court Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), and The Department of Queer Complaints (1940) — which are of additional interest to me since the novels are all abridgements.  So, having just read the unedited text of The Unicorn Murders, I thought it might be interesting to see what was excised from this abridged version.

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#254: The Unicorn Murders (1935) by Carter Dickson

unicornmurdersWhen a man is found dead, stabbed between the eyes by a unicorn (of indeterminate nationality) — a, yes, fictional animal that can nevertheless apparently turn invisible at will — you don’t expect to find yourself in the GADU.  And when a second victim is then killed in the same way but in full view of witnesses, if one can witness an invisible animal, you better hope you’re in the GADU or else things are about to get silly.  Well, it’s your lucky day, because you are in a classic impossible crime mystery and things are about to get silly — this book is probably the final time John Dickson Carr had all the ingredients for a classic and didn’t actually write it, instead leaving a few edges untouched so that the overriding impression is slightly more “Er…what?” than “Hell, yeah!”.

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#229: Carr vs. Christie…the Follow-Up

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Last week we discussed the merits of what all y’all voted the two finest books by John Dickson Carr and Agatha Christie in full spoiler style.  This week, Brad — who magnanimously locked horns with me — is hosting a follow-up where we air yet more of our favourite napery regarding these two and…well, go to his site and check it out…

Come back here next week for another follow-up where we’ll be…nah, I’m kidding.  We’re not going to flog this horse any more.

Are we, Brad?

#226: Spoiler Warning 2 – Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie vs. He Who Whispers (1946) by John Dickson Carr

spoiler-warning

In the second of my semi-occasional series where caution is thrown to the wind when it comes to naming names, we are here today to discuss the two finest detective novelists of all time at their popular peak.  Christie aficionado, good friend, and best teacher ever Brad of AhSweetMysteryBlog kindly agreed to go head-to-head over our favourite authors and then exchange some thoughts on aspects of the precise details and workings of the books, and the results of our efforts are below.  Suffice to say, if you click to read more of this, there are guaranteed massive spoilers from this point on; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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