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:

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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).

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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.

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