I’ve done a series of posts where I’ve looked at the reputation I’ve been able to determine for Carr’s works, dividing them into categories:
Now the pendulum swings the other way, and I cover the books that are consistently criticized. These are books that almost everyone seems to dislike. Here they are in order of reputation:
- The Problem of the Wire Cage
- Below Suspicion
- Panic in Box C
- The Man Who Could Not Shudder
- Night at the Mocking Widow
- The Cavalier’s Cup
- The Eight of Swords
- The Ghost’s High Noon
- Papa La-Bas
- Deadly Hall
- The Dead Man’s Knock
- Dark of the Moon
- The Hungry Goblin
- Behind the Crimson Blind
Now, I haven’t actually read any of these stories, so I’m curious for your thoughts. Night at the Mocking Widow shows up on the famous list of top locked room mysteries, and yet I also see it featured prominently on lists of books to avoid. How can that be?
The list is heavy on books that Carr wrote towards the end of his career, but it also contains some stories from the 30-40’s era that I’ve enjoyed reading. Take Below Suspicion as an example – written in the 40’s (ok, late 40’s), and the plot summary sounds fairly interesting. Could it be that bad?
I haven’t read a bad Carr book yet, so I don’t know what to expect. Should I dive off the deep end with one of these, or continue in blissful ignorance? I have encountered a taste of Carr’s gratuitous use of slapstick in both She Died a Lady and The House in Goblin Wood (both of which are excellent, btw), and I wasn’t a fan. I suspect though that it isn’t this humor that dragged Carr down on several of his endeavors.
So what are your thoughts? Have any of these books been undeservingly slandered? Are there any obvious books that I’ve left out?