Rating John Dickson Carr – Commonly Criticized

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:

  1. The Classics
  2. Highly Recommended
  3. Recommended

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:

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Rating John Dickson Carr – Recommended

I’m partway through a series of posts where I categorize Carr’s books based on the reputation that I’ve found on line.  You can read my previous posts on The Classics and Highly Recommended books.

For this post, I’ll be looking at “Recommended”.  These books show up occasionally on Top 10 lists, but not nearly at the rate of my previous categories.  Here they are, listed in order of reputation.

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Rating John Dickson Carr – Highly Recommended

I did a recent post where I’ve started to break down the John Dickson Carr books based on reputation that I’ve found on the internet.  To review:

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 be looking at “Highly Recommended”.  These are books that almost everyone seems to recommend, but they don’t cross over to the point of unanimous classics.  I don’t recall seeing anyone suggest that any of these books should be avoided.  Here they are, listed in order of reputation

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Rating John Dickson Carr – The Classics

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.

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The Burning Court

burningcourtBlind Man’s Hood was the second story I ever read by John Dickson Carr.  Beyond an enjoyable story, what struck me was the eerie quality introduced by the supernatural element.  The notion of supernatural should normally be a deterrent for a fan of locked room mysteries and impossible crimes.  How can you truly have fair play if anything is possible?  Carr pulled it off perfectly – providing a faithful impossible crime with a clever solution, and then introducing just enough of a supernatural element to make you rethink what you just read.

I approached The Burning Court with curiosity.  Not only does it seem to make most Top 10 Carr lists, but reviews suggested that a supernatural element was at play.  But good reviews were hard to come by – I prefer blogs that tease me enough into making me want to read a book (or avoid it), rather than put me at risk of stumbling upon some detail that ruins the puzzle.  My favorite sources provided nothing on this non-series novel.

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