Friday, September 30, 2011

The Plague Court murders by Carter Dickson

Ken Blake the faithful assistant of HM(Henry Merrivale) is bored to death sitting in a bar drinking, Ken is approached by Halliday an old friend who asks Ken to spend a night with him in a haunted house. Ken readily takes up the challenge. On a rainy, dark and mysterious night Blake and Halliday reach a house like no other, the house is known to be haunted by no other then Louis Plague a malevolent soul always watchful, always cunning and always waiting to posses a living body and to exchange that body's weak brain with its own just had it done since it's first appearance in 1665.

The family of Halliday hires a Psychic Roger Darworth to exorcise the Plague court ghost, the exorcist was not an ordinary one. He was a first rate fraud and under police surveillance for months. Darworth wanting to Impress his Acolytes by exorcising the ghost of Plague court, locks himself in a small stone house which has solid stone walls on four sides, a wooden door locked from both inside and outside, its windows barred and with no secret weapon is found brutally murdered. And the murder weapon? no ordinary one. It was the ancient knife which was the property of the Plague Court ghost.


The Plague Court murders starts of as a haunted house story which gives you the chills on every page and then very soon it becomes a Locked room murder mystery. This was Carr's genre and he was the master at it. In many Carr books you will find the element of Supernatural. Carr will put forward an impossible crime and then have you believe that there could be no other explanation for it other then the supernatural and then HM or Dr. Gideon Fell would prove otherwise. This is the debut of the "Old Man" i.e. Henry Merrivale. This is a good debut not HM's best but still good enough. The locked room itself is pretty solid but how it was cracked was not very satisfactory also it won't be easy to guess the identity of the murderer because of a twist in the end which I was not content with. In conclusion this is a nice read with an impenetrable locked room murder, a ghost story and HM making his debut.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

Where can you get this: Unfortunately this is not easy to get as this book is out of print, I found a second hand book on Infibeam in a good condition worth Rs 580.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He Who Whispers by John Dickson Carr

Miles Hammond is invited to the meeting of the mysterious "Murder Club", the murder club meets to discuss impossible and intriguing murders and on a very rainy and mysterious Friday night it's guest speaker is Professor Rigaud, but to the surprise of Miles Hammond all members of the murder club are absent except for the speaker and a young girl, so with the lights gone and three of them sitting in a lonely dark room Professor Rigaud starts to narrate his story about Fey Seton. The red hair beauty who when walks in a room leaves all the men gasping.


Fey Seton comes to the little french city of Chartes where she works as a secretary to the Wealthy Industrialist Howard Brookes, but wherever Fey goes rumors follow. Inevitably the young son of Mr. Brookes falls for Fey but the Sr. Brookes would have none of it, having heard some very disturbing stories about Fey, Mr Brookes decides to bribe Fey out of love and arranges a meeting on top of an old stone tower, Fey is seen coming down from the tower when Mr Brookes is seen well and alive on top of the tower, soon Mr. Brookes is found dead on top of the tower with just one entrance door and nobody seen going inside and no one seen going outside, there is no explanation of his murder, who entered the tower? where did they go?

The villagers do have an explanation and it is that Fey Flew to the top of the 40 foot tower!! surprised?
they say she is a Nosferatu or a Vampire!

A telephone call ends the murder club meeting abruptly, Miles Hammond goes back to his life and his Library of antique and rare books, but soon he gets a message from a job applicant for the position of a Librarian who miles wanted desperately, on inquiring Miles founds out that the Applicant has come down from France and is a tall, red haired, beautiful woman called "Fey Seton"!

Review: You start reading the novel and you begin to realize what a master Carr is. Carr weaves the supernatural into the fabric of the book so well that you feel that you are reading a horror story where the explanation of the murder cannot be anything but Supernatural, the book is from the Gideon Fell Series.

Who is Gideon Fell? he is an amateur sleuth who is an expert on locked room crimes, he is the fictional hero of the greatest locked room mystery of all time "The hollow man" where in chapter 17 Fell gives a full lecture on the how locked room murders might be committed.

Where can you buy this: Flipkart or Infibeam will cost around 550 bucks

Ratings: 4.5 stars, do not miss this!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Crooked House by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie calls The Crooked house as one of her personal favorites and a book that she really enjoyed writing, first published in 1949 The Crooked House is part of the non series books by Agatha Christie which means there is no popular fictional detective like Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot in this one.


Charles is the son of the AC of the Scotland yard and is in love with the beautiful Sophia Leonides, when Charles shares his feeling of Love with Sophia, she refuses Charles but not because she does not love Charles but because she might be one of the accused in the murder of her millionaire grandfather. Charles like a knight in shining armor comes to the rescue to help his Fiance and find the true identity of the murderer. But has he bitten off more then he can chew? will the truth save him or hurt him?


This is only the second non-series Agatha Christie book that I have read and without a doubt her non-series books have been the best, This is an absolute intriguing read. I read the whole book in one day! no doubt people refer to this one as one of her best novels. The Absence of Marple and Poirot in the book is perfect had any of the two of them been in this book then that would have ruined it for me, The amateur sleuth Charles proves to be a great narrator and detective and you can relate more to the Human errors of Charles then the sometimes Snobbish Poirot, the ending of the book is perfect the last 4 chapters are absolutely spell binding and working out the identity of the killer is not easy, I was not able to work this one out, why don't you give it a try too? A must read.

Where can you get it: I got this one from Landmark for Rs 150, I think you can get it cheaper from FlipKart.

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