#481: The Seat of the Scornful, a.k.a. Death Turns the Tables (1941) by John Dickson Carr

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It’s cold outside, it’s dark outside — yes, thank-you, The Southern Hemisphere, no-one likes a smartarse — Christmas is over; time to battle through with some beloved authors.  First up, and most beloved of them all despite a recent charge by Freeman Wills Crofts, Mr. John Dickson Carr and Dr. Gideon Fell, here engaged in no showy impossibilities but instead the sort of low-key case for which Carr doesn’t get enough credit.  Where the relative simplicity of this might lead to this being overlooked, I’d argue that its restrained execution and structure are so brilliantly without flaw that the more easily you dismiss it the more you’re falling into the very trap it lays.

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#439: Nine – and Death Makes Ten, a.k.a. Murder in the Atlantic, a.k.a. Murder in the Submarine Zone (1940) by Carter Dickson

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Yes, this was supposed to be The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) by Ellery Queen in preparation for the forthcoming spoiler-filled look at Halfway House (1936).  Yes, you all warned me that book was awful, and you were correct.  Let’s instead board a cruise ship stuffed with munitions at the outset of the Second World War and watch the eight — or is it nine? — passengers slowly get to know each other until one of them is found murdered in their cabin, the corpse peppered with fingerprints which do not match those of anyone on board.  Aaah, I feel better already — man, I love the work of John Dickson Carr; the idea of having never discovered it makes me feel a little unwell.

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