I will admit the chance that I am overrating this book slightly, but, dude, I loved it. The central premise — that Herman Pennik can both read the minds of others and kill people just by thinking about them, using a hitherto-unexplored scientific principle he calls Teleforce — has the absurdity of overwroughtness that distinguishes the Henry Merrivale books under John Dickson Carr’s Carter Dickson nom de plume (see: The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders (1936), etc). But Carr plays it remarkably straight, keeping his phantasmagorical flourishes to a minimum and concentrating on plot and glorious atmosphere.
For sheer commitment to the thimblerigging of the impossible crime, this surely ranks alongside The Burning Court (1937) as amongst the most vanward books Carr ever wrote. What especially helps is that for once he doesn’t seem to be in a rush to race through all his ideas; he always had a talent for the imbrications of unease and menace with simple dropped adjectives and ringing juxtaposition, but here he’s more than happy to dwell over the light fittings if it’ll make his case more tangible:
Under each corner of the glass dome, a cluster of electric globes bloomed like luminous fruit, They had the garish and snaky appearance of such fixtures popular at the end of the nineteenth century; they brought out the garishness of gilt and palms and coloured glass.