As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by British Crime Classics, February
2020. ISBN: 978-0-7123-5326-7 (PB)
(Originally published in 1931)
A sinister castle
on the Rhine – the mysterious disappearance of a magician called Meleager – a
shot man dancing to his death in a mass of flame on the castle battlements –
there is plenty for French juge d’instruction
Bencolin and his sidekick Jeff Marle to investigate.
Edward’s excellent British Library Crime Classics series has gradually been
republishing out-of-print authors of the Golden Age, though the biggest wonder
to me is that Dickson Carr /Carter Dickson has gone out of print in the UK.
I’ve been collecting lurid-covered editions of his books since I was a teenager
and he’s my absolute favourite. His later books starred sleuths Henry Merrivale
(based on Winston Churchill, and the funniest crime ever written) and Dr Fell (based
on fellow crime-writer G K Chesterton). If you want atmosphere, JDC is your
man, and this book is no exception, with the Gothic brooding of Castle Skull
itself, and the narcissistic grandeur ofretired actor Alison’s house, filled with vividly drawn characters: his
poker-playing cigar-smoking sister, the bullying financier D’Aunay and his
apparently colourless wife, and of course the Mephistophelean Bencolin, with
his cryptic comments and shrewd deductions.JDC insisted on fair play, and the clues here are displayed clearly,
giving the reader every chance to ‘work it out’, and there’s a clever
double-solution ending. The finale is sheer grand guignol melodrama, and great
you enjoy a brooding Gothic mystery that’s strong on atmosphere, characters and
clever plotting, this one’s a treat – and I was delighted to see that some of
his later books like Hag’s Nook and She Died a Lady are now coming out on
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
John Dickson Carr (1906-1977)
was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1906. Through born in the USA, Carr
developed a distinctly British style to his mystery writing from his time
living in England and became one of only two Americans ever admitted to the Detection
Club. It Walks by Night, his first published detective novel, featuring the
Frenchman Henri Bencolin, was published in 1930. Apart from Dr Fell, whose
first appearance was in Hag's Nook in 1933, Carr's other series detectives
(published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) were the barrister Sir
Henry Merrivale, who debuted in The Plague Court Murders (1934).
Marsali Taylor grew up
near Edinburgh and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is
currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her
husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is
fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive
dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a
keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of
her local drama group.Marsali also does
a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.