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.

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