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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Mad Hatter Mystery (Gideon Fell, #2)

The Mad Hatter Mystery - John Dickson Carr

I've been wanting to read The Hollow Man (aka The Three Coffins) for ages, but I've been stubbornly waiting until I found an older edition (mission: impossible), rather than buying a spiffy new reprint.  But when Otto Penzler's American Mystery Classics released this spiffy new reprint with it's classic looking cover, I caved.

 

In Penzler's introduction, he refers to this as one of Dickson Carr's masterpieces.  It's the only one I've read –so far– but I'll agree with him in principle, because I can't imagine the mysteries he'd have had to write to knock this one out of, say, his top 3 (we'll take it as read that The Hollow Man occupies the first spot).  The writing is sublime, the humor is well timed and a perfect blend of American and UK wit, and the plotting is incredible.  The ending... well, the ending is twisty and dodgy and Dickson Carr uses one of my favorite devices; one I think elevates the story to another level.

 

Woven within the narrative is Dickson Carr's ode to books; to a good mystery; the legitimacy of genre literature; to the love of reading and the places it can take you.  Round about the edges are tip of the hats to Conan Doyle and more obviously, his friend and debate partner, G.K. Chesterton.

 

My reading was constantly interrupted by real life, which I feel hampered my ability to 'play along', though, ironically, I did guess the murderer in the end, purely because the fractured reading left me misunderstanding what I thought was a 'big' clue.

 

All in all an incredibly entertaining read; I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, classic mystery, with the caveat that it is best read when the reader has time to devote to it.