The Red Widow Murders

redwidowI’m surprised that I don’t read more about this book.  It doesn’t show up on many Top Carr lists and I haven’t seen it reviewed on many of my favorite sites.  It seems to occupy a strange limbo alongside The Ten Teacups, The Unicorn Murders, The Reader is Warned, and The Mad Hatter mystery – I find very little mention of these books, and yet they seem to be held in fairly high regard.

My verdict?  This could have easily been Carr’s masterpiece.  Could have…  The atmosphere is gripping – possibly his best.  The puzzle is mind bending – possibly his best.  The pace is riveting – again, possibly his best.  Similar to The Judas Window, each successive chapter seems to include its own shattering revelations.  There is even a long fascinating passage set in the time of the French Revolution, dripping with Carr’s usual historical details.

Continue reading “The Red Widow Murders”

She Died a Lady

Juliet died a lady

shediedaladyI don’t know why, but I love the name of this novel.  I’ve seen it placed high on top 10 Carr lists and was curious to see if it would live up to its reputation.  Short answer – mmm, I don’t know.  The puzzle is fascinating, yet the solution wasn’t quite fulfilling (more on that later).  The story lacks the atmosphere and urgency of other works, but is still an enjoyable read.  The reveal of the killer is uniquely done and I really liked how the novel closed out.

Published in 1943, this Merrivale tale takes place in 1940, as the threat of German air raids on England looms large.  A woman schemes to leave her older husband and escape to America with a younger man.  During a small gathering, the lovers slip out the back door and vanish – into thin air.  Their footprints are found in a dirt path leading to Lovers Leap – the edge of a 70 foot cliff, with rocks and crashing waves below.  Suicide is the original verdict, until the bodies are recovered from the sea.  Both victims were shot at close range, and yet the murder weapon is found 1/2 a mile inland.

Continue reading “She Died a Lady”