Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Burning Court (1937)

Though I thought I'd read most of the John Dickson Carr books in my college years, this one had escaped me somehow. I picked up a copy for my Kindle and read it a few weeks ago. Doug Greene, in his seminal work on Carr, indicates that Carr wrote the book to show that the witchcraft and supernatural stories could be written about the US.

Overall, I enjoyed it very much. The story is atypical for Carr in that it does not have one of his series characters in it. The hero, if you wish to use the term, is an editor who lives in Pennsylvania. The man is reading a manuscript of true crime stories by Gaudan Cross and comes across the story of a woman poisoner who greatly resembles his own wife, who comes from rather mysterious circumstances. When it's discovered that a local man was poisoned, of course suspicions fall upon the wife.

Carr offered two impossible crimes for us in this book, which I enjoyed very much. First, who was that lady (sorry I couldn't help myself) who was seen in the victim's room on his last night, who turned and apparently walked through the wall? Then, what happened to the body of the victim?

As I've found with most JDC books, I am just merely along for the ride, because I can't possibly keep up with his mind and imagination. In this case, there is a double reveal. The crimes are all explained logically and then a final twist is thrown in, one that would have Father Knox rolling in his grave.

I would still give this book a hearty recommendation, and it made me want to search out the few remaining Carrs I haven't read.

1 comment:

  1. FYI, this was also made into an excellent radio play -- probably with the script by Carr, but I don't know for sure. I have heard the play.