Five books to read before they’re spoiled for you – John Dickson Carr edition

If there’s anything that I enjoy as much as reading GAD works, it’s reading about them.  I can’t resist – if only because my phone goes with me when the books don’t.  It’s that desire to discover the unknown – the story I haven’t heard of or the familiar title that I didn’t realize I need to read.  The blogging community makes it all too easy.  Type the name of a book/author into a search engine and maybe narrow the search to WordPress or Blogspot and you’re guaranteed hours of slack-jawed enjoyment.

Of course, the blog posts are only part of it.  The comments are almost better – the debates on fair play, the piles of recommendations, and best of all, the merciless criticism.  When a review of The Unicorn Murders spirals into a defense of Below Suspicion, and a post on The Emperor’s Snuff Box leads to a dissection of the merits of The White Priory Murders vs The Plague Court Murders, that’s when I’m in my element.

Unfortunately, there’s a danger in all of this – the careless comment, always innocent, that risks ruining a puzzle.  I’ve had it happen a few times, I hate to say.  I’ll be reading along, cautious for any language that hints of spoiler, and then wham!  My eyes flick away instantly, but my brain has processed what they saw.  I tell myself that I’ll forget, but unfortunately that just doesn’t happen.

Continue reading “Five books to read before they’re spoiled for you – John Dickson Carr edition”

Advertisements

Being the End of Bencolin

I’ve documented my obsession with reading order before.  John Dickson Carr has books covering all sorts of ranges – various detectives (Bencolin, Fell, Merrivale, non-series), subgenres (historical, time travel, locked rooms), and five different decades.  How to tackle it all?  Well, I have my own evolving maniacal method that I’ve discussed on here from time to time.  For this piece though, I’ll be focusing on my deviation from it.

It all started with some sound advice from JJ over at The Invisible Event.  Reasonable guidance, along the lines of “just read them in order.”  Well, I can’t quite argue with something as simple as that.  What better way to experience an author than to watch them evolve?  To watch the arc of Bencolin, the introduction of Fell and Merrivale, and then to understand if and how the stories linked together or matured over time.  Still, I had my inner turmoil.  There were a few problems that jumped out at me:

Continue reading “Being the End of Bencolin”

John Dickson Carr – Five beguiling puzzles

When it comes to evaluating impossible crimes, there are two super obvious criteria.

  • How gripping the puzzle is
  • How clever the solution is

It isn’t surprising to note that the two aren’t always the same.  The best solutions aren’t alway preceded by the most bewildering impossibility, and the most rapturing puzzle doesn’t alway leave you satisfied in the end.  I’ve previously covered some astonishing solutions, and now I’ll be looking at five beguiling puzzles (hint: where the two lists intersect, you’ll find some killer impossible crimes).

Continue reading “John Dickson Carr – Five beguiling puzzles”

John Dickson Carr – 5 brilliant solutions

If you’re reading John Dickson Carr, the master of the locked room, chances are you’re in it for the impossible crime.  Over the course of his 70+ novels, you’ll encounter a broad range of beguiling puzzles.  Not all are locked rooms, and not all are impossible crimes.  Across such a spectrum, how do you rate them?

One obvious measure is the solution.  Yeah, a good puzzle can draw you in, but if it doesn’t pay off with full satisfying glory, then you’re left grasping for the shadow of an idea that never fully materializes.

Continue reading “John Dickson Carr – 5 brilliant solutions”