#1018: “If it’s a new wrinkle in the art of homicide, I want to know all about it.” – The White Priory Murders (1934) by Carter Dickson

It speaks volumes about the excitement that the work of John Dickson Carr provokes in me that, with still around 20 of his novels unread, I’m revisiting some favourite titles from his output. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the likes of the American Mystery Classics and the British Library Crime Classics ranges are putting out such lovely new editions — and who wouldn’t want to revisit Carr in his prime?

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#999: They Walk in Darkness (1947) by Gerald Verner

They Walk in Darkness

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If you’re reading this in the Southern Hemisphere — or in the year 2047, when global warming has reduced the planet to a scorched wasteland — then the raft of snow-bound mysteries reviewed in the run-up to Christmas might seem a little odd. Nevertheless, this snowswept tale of impossible murder, which came recommended by Tom Mead, has been reserved for this precise season so that its twofold chills — physical and atmospheric — might be better appreciated. Gerald Verner wrote so much that it would be easy to believe that quality wasn’t high on his agenda, but he does good work in They Walk in Darkness (1947) even if the overall edifice doesn’t quite live up to its promise.

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#997: “Actors never betray themselves…” – Final Acts: Theatrical Mysteries [ss] (2022) ed. Martin Edwards

I tend to read multi-author anthologies over — if I’m honest — a couple of months, to better ameliorate the often wild changes in style and content of each tale. In recent times I’ve sped this process up, so that I’m able to review the annual Bodies from the Library (2018-present) collections on this very blog, so let’s see how I fare doing the same for the latest Martin Edwards-edited collection in the British Library Crime Classics range, eh?

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#996: The Nine Wrong Answers (1952) by John Dickson Carr

Nine Wrong Answers

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In order to read the full text of The Nine Wrong Answers (1952) by John Dickson Carr you must read the first edition hardcover, as all paperback printings having been reduced by what Carr’s biographer Douglas Greene estimates to be about 15%. And, having now read the condensed text, it’s difficult not to feel that the book could actually be shortened by about another 30% since, in expanding this up from his radio play ‘Will You Make a Bet with Death?’ (1942), Carr has stretched a thin premise now too thin. A lot of the distractions here are simply that: distractions, and the core excellence of the plot is rendered tedious at times when trying to support so many circumlocutions.

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#980: (Spooky) Little Fictions – The Horror on the Links [ss] (2017) by Seabury Quinn

This first volume of The Complete tales of Jules de Grandin, French detective of the occult, contains 23 stories published between 1925 and 1928. Seabury Quinn was brought to my attention on the GAD Facebook group as an author who, like William Hope Hodgson, would mix in rational solutions to apparently supernatural problems so that you’re never sure what you’re getting. Sounds like fun? Let’s see how these stories stand up to scrutiny.

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