Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Arabian Nights Murder by John Dickson Carr

Dr Gideon fell, is brought face to face with his most bizarre case yet, nothing makes sense . Why would an old man jump off an Oriental museum wall and accuse a police officer of malevolent machinations and then try to punch him? The police man defends himself and knocks down the old timer, he goes for help and when comes back finds that the old blighter has disappeared. Later, when an inspector opens the door of a carriage to investigate some strange goings-on in the museum, a dead body jumps out at him and protruding from his chest is a Persian dagger,  also it has fake whiskers on its chin and a cookbook clutched in his hand.
what does all this mean? with a plethora of strange characters and incidents, Dr fell systematically unravels this mystery wrapped like an onion.

Review: The only way to read this book is after getting drunk, the plot is unnecessarily confusing, and a lot of things which have very low odds of happening, end up happening together to irritate and disconcert the reader.

It almost feels like Carr was inebriated when he wrote this book, the story revolves around fake whiskers, coal marks on the wall and dancing little museum attendants. The story is told from three point of views of different investigating officers, this 350 + page novel tends to bore and annoy the reader. The plot is just downright absurd and along with "And So to Murder" can be categorized as the one of the ugliest books Carr has written. That is the thing about Carr, his plot themes invoke very strong opinions, I guess this genre is like that only, when it works people him as the greatest author who ever lived and when a book fails the genre as a whole is trashed and the reader ends up getting a block.

The setting of the story is an old Oriental museum, which adds a nice touch to the book but in no way is as sinister as it could have been had Carr used it correctly, that scary, dark ambiance or atmosphere that you usually associate with a Carr book is missing.

The identity of the murderer is well hidden and actually a bit difficult to figure out, that is if by the end you actually care. The characters act completely like an Anthony Berkeley novel where fake and unreal is the norm for all. Dr Fell is absent from most of the book and his modicum presence does little to help the Arabian Nights Murder.
The only redeeming factor of the book is the narration by an eccentric priest Dr Illingworth, whose shenanigans keep you in splits. giving this 2 out of 5 stars, skip this one. read only if you are an acolyte of JD Carr, like me :)

Where can you buy it? I bought it for Rs 600 from Infibeam.

Book info

Written in : 1936
Number of pages: 370
In print : No

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