Friday, 15 January 2016

Forgotten Book - She Died a Lady

Bob Adey was a huge fan of John Dickson Carr, and I'm delighted to have acquired a couple of his Carr books with inscriptions. One of these, She Died a Lady, was published under the name Carter Dickson in 1943; the copy is a slim war-time edition, which Carr has inscribed to a woman friend with the comment "more dirty work".

This is a Sir Henry Merrivale story, and it's a very good one. I was delighted with the way Carr pulled the wool over my eyes. With his impossible crime stories, I seldom work out the ingenious m.o. of the killer, which is often too technical for my impractical brain to grasp, but I tend to have better luck in figuring out whodunit. This time, I came up with a nice solution which proved to be hopelessly wrong. And as fellow detective fans know, there are few more satisfying reading experiences than being cleverly fooled by a cunning plot twist or two. And there several good twists in this story.

Other than an epilogue, this story is narrated by a village doctor. Sound familiar ? If not, Carr drops a hint by including a character with the same name as someone in Agatha Christie's  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But is this a clue or a red herring? Suffice to say that I thought Carr pulled off a neat narrative trick here, and although it's one of which Christie would have been proud, it is original as far as I know.

What we have here is a story of a married woman who falls for a young actor. Is her elderly husband blind to what is going on? When the lovers disappear, and seem to have taken part in a suicide pact, the husband is the obvious suspect. But Carr didn't deal in obvious solutions. I felt that he chose an unwisely small pool of potential murderers, but he outsmarted me. I enjoyed this one a lot, and I bet Bob did too.




7 comments:

Dave said...

I really wish Carr's books were reprinted.

JJ @ The Invisible Event said...

It's a tough one to call with so many great books to his name, but this is easily among my favourite Carrs...he was such a wonderful writer ans plotter, with a fecundity of imagination that I serisouly doubt we'll ever see again. I agree with Dave: he needs to be back in print, it's an absolute crime that someone of his talent and contribution to the genre is neglected to the degree that he is.

Les Blatt said...

I read this one a few months ago and found it very impressive. The solution to the impossible crime certainly had me fooled, as did the identity of the culprit. When Carr was at his best - as I think he was here - he had no equal.

Martin Edwards said...

Agreed, Dave!

Martin Edwards said...

J.J., I'm with you. He had a fantastic imagination.

Martin Edwards said...

Les, I'm also a big fan. One of the best Golden Age writers, for sure.

Clothes In Books said...

I liked this one very much, and - like you - came up with a wholly incorrect solution. As you say, very satisfied to feel you have been thoroughly fooled.