Tour’s Books Blog

February 7, 2009

Locked Room Mystery Classic

Filed under: Book review,Mystery review — toursbooks @ 12:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

Back in the day – and well before my time – several authors wrote ‘locked room’ mysteries.  These mysteries were as much about HOW the crime was committed as they were about WHO committed it!  The best know author specializing in this genre was John Dickson Carr with lead character Dr. Gideon Fell, who also wrote as Carter Dickson, with Sir Henry Merrivale as the detective.   But my all time favorites were penned by Clayton Rawson, amateur magician and editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.  The books starred The Great Merlini – a retired magician and magic shop owner in New York City.  I had to go to Alibris to get used copies of these books as are they are out of print more often than not.

Merlini had only four outings – Death From a Top Hat, Footprints on the Ceiling, The Headless Lady, and No Coffin for the Corpse published between 1938 and 1942.  Each book is a gem filled with atmosphere.  Like the John Dickson Carr books, these are supposedly penned by Merlini’s younger sidekick, in this case news reporter Ross Harte, and written in the first person.  Each is named for a magic trick and the solution is based on the kind of carnival sleight-of-hand and misdirection used in the old fashioned magic tricks.  Hard to find and more than worth the effort for any mystery fan!

Tour’s Rating – A+

Who would enjoy these books:  The books were written long before political correctness entered fiction, so some things need to be put in historical perspective.  The language is G rated as is the action.

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