Friday, January 17, 2014

Carr and the Falling Scotsmen

By John Dickson Carr.
1941. $2.00
Reprinted in 2010.

Some people love it, others not so much:
John Dickson Carr was considered to be a master of the locked-room mystery, and in The Case of the Constant Suicides . . . he gives us not one but two locked-room puzzles! One of which has a particularly ingenious solution. — dfordoom, VINTAGE POP FICTIONS (30 December 2011)
Two plunges—first fatal, second nearly so—from "haunted" Scottish tower give canny Dr. Fell real wit-sharpener. - Antics of richly-portrayed leading characters under spell of potent Hielan brew add gusty humor to first class puzzle. - Verdict: Carr at his best. — THE SATURDAY REVIEW (June 28, 1941)
. . . first-class Carr. . . . The solution, which relies on a clever application of chemistry, is ingenious, and the way in which a small detail causes a best-laid plan to gang agley is equally so; the second death is more mechanical, and so less interesting. — Nick Fuller, GAD Wiki
As is usual for Carr, variations on 'what might have happened' outnumber candidates for 'who might have done it,' and the identity of the guilty party comes into view less through artful detection than by process of elimination. Add in just enough comedy and just enough romance and just enough Scottish atmosphere, though—along with two clever impossible-crime solutions—and the upshot is one of the author's most agreeable tales. — Mike, ONLY DETECT (9 July 2011)
Apart from an absurd show of ignorance on the author's part about a simple, well-known substance, this is a very entertaining mystery, one of JDC's most fun to read; but the ending is a cop-out. Best part is the setting. [This is] Carr's only book with a Scottish setting, even though he was of Scottish ancestry; too bad he didn't set one in Edinburgh, which is a perfect 'murder' city. — Wyatt James
. . . [Carr's] impossible crime novels in 1940-1942 seem much thinner than his earlier books. The one with the best locked room concepts is The Case of the Constant Suicides. However, even this falls flat as a novel. — Mike Grost, GAD Wiki

Category: Detective fiction

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