Out of all of the impossible crime author’s I’ve read, John Dickson Carr has grabbed my obsession. My entry point for most author’s has been the short story, although the mere premise of Leo Bruce’s Case for Three Detectives was enough to pull me in. Satisfied with The Wrong Problem and Blind Man’s Hood, and tempted by reviews, I started my reading with Hag’s Nook and The Nine Wrong Answers, which seems somewhat humorous in retrospect. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both novels, but looking back, these are curious entry points. I chose Hag’s Nook because the plot seemed interesting, and being the first Fell book, it seemed like a natural starting point. I was intrigued by the premise of the author taunting the reader directly, which drew me into The Nine Wrong Answers. Oh, and the fact that I found both books on eBay for like $2 helped influence my choice a bit.
As I’ve acquired more and more Carr books, a constant thing on my mind is what order to read them. I don’t want to burn through all of the best stuff first and have little to look forward to. At the same time, I’d prefer to avoid the books that everyone agrees are bad – at least, until I’m desperate. My approach so far has been to read through the books that range from recommended and highly recommended, while injecting a classic every so often. I’ve created these categories based on the vibe I’ve gotten from blogs, forums, and other lists that I’ve found. I’m obviously sensitive to avoid sources that tell me too much about the stories or could spoil the puzzles. Here are some examples of the resources I’ve used:
For this post, I’ll start by looking at “The Classics”. I’ve listed them in order of reputation based on my research.
- The Three Coffins
- He Who Whispers
- The Crooked Hinge
- The Judas Window
- The Burning Court
- The Problem of the Green Capsule
I’ve marked the ones that I’ve read already in bold. So far, I’ve enjoyed them all. My favorites are The Problem of the Green Capsule and The Judas Window. I suspect that as I progress through more of the catalog, The Burning Court and He Who Whispers will maintain their spot towards the top of the ranks as well.
I’m not going to go into more detail here – each of these will get an individual review and I’ll probably put together some Top 5 lists further down the road. My question to the community, is are these the books that you would consider to be The Classics?