The Skeleton in the Clock is a 1947 Carter Dickson (aka John Dickson Carr) novel featuring Sir Henry Merrivale. It's one of those stories (The Dungeon House is another example that springs to mind!) which involves two related murders, twenty years apart. And it's a book with some excellent features, including a noteworthy "impossible crime", lthough it's marred by one or two of the author's characteristic weaknesses
The death of Sir George Fleet twenty years ago was written off as an accident, although H.M. has his doubts. But Sir George plunged from an apparently deserted roof top, in plain sight, with nobody else visible. How could he have been pushed, or forced off the roof to his death? When H.M. and a number of other people - some of whom were present at the tragedy twenty years earlier - attend the scene in the present day, it seems inevitable that the outcome will be murder. And so it proves - eventually - although the identity of the victim will come as a surprise to most readers, as it certainly did to me.
A clock with a skeleton inside it features in the story. It's a typically arresting visual device, and Carr integrates it into his plot with great skill. There is also a superbly creepy abandoned prison - Pentecost Prison - where two of the lead characters unwisely spend the night. The Pentecost scenes are memorable, and I also thought the murder motive and the identify of the culprit were excellent. But Carr did not make as much of them as he could have done, because of his lack of interest in the darker aspects of criminal psychology.
Much as I like the Carter Dickson books (and I pick them up whenever I find one I haven't read), they sometimes suffer from an over-indulgence in tedious romances and the author's over-confidence in the extent to which Merrivale's comic behaviour is genuinely amusing. For me, a little of Sir Henry the buffoon goes a long way, and that's why I prefer the books about Dr Gideon Fell. But as a detective Merrivale is no slouch, and the solution to this puzzle is ingenious though very far-fetched. An enjoyable book, but not one of his very best..