As TomCat also mentions in his recent worshipping post, the more Carr you read the more you appreciate him and that's certainly what happened to me in the last months. I don't really prefer either him or Queen as an author anymore and I've gotten attuned to the duo of Merrivale and Masters, but as a detective figure I still enjoy Ellery a lot; in contrast to certain other readers it seems. Maybe I was primed by arrogant, eccentric detectives in Japanese novels already even without reading anything with Philo Vance in it. Anyway, I was kind of reluctant to pick up The Egyptian Cross Mystery due to the prevalent opinion it would have been more suitable for a short story frame, which is comparable to how I felt about The Dutch Shoe Mystery. So I decided to finally read the first of Queen's short story collections instead and here are my own two cents about the stories.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Michael Tairlaine is invited to a strange kind of gathering at the Mantlings' house, where Sir Henry Merrivale will also show up as an impartial witness. The partakers draw cards, which will determine who stays in a supposedly haunted room. Well, not exactly haunted by a supernatural force, but the room itself seems to be killing people as soon as they stay alone in that room and supposedly it does so by poison, since that seems most likely considering the records of the cases in the past which reach back to the time of the French Revolution. After someone is decided to go into the Widow's Room, he is to answer the others' calling every 15 minutes. And he does so just until the time is over and the others barge through the door to find out the victim must have already been dead for an hour! He died of curare, but no wounds for the poison to enter are found on the body and nobody could have entered the room anyway since it was under constant observation. And how did a dead man answer their calls?
Friday, June 29, 2012
Kagi no kakatta heya is the TV drama adaptation of Kishi Yuusuke's series of locked room mysteries featuring young attorney Aoto Junko and security consultant (professional thief??) Enomoto Kei. The stories were collected under the name of the third book/second short story collection in the series and Aoto's boss Serizawa was added to the main cast. Each episode is about a case where Enomoto has to explain a locked room scenario so that Aoto and Serizawa can prove someone's innocence in a murder case or find the culprit in what at first seemed like a suicide. So yes, a whole series that deals solely with locked rooms! How awesome is that? Pretty much, but due to time restraints and the relatively continuous theme and structure of the episodes, I'll just illustrate my Top 3 and give a final opinion of the whole series.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
After the suicide of Victor Darnley's wife in a locked attic room, the Darnley house and especially said room became to be known as haunted and none of its tenants stayed for long. But when mediumistic Alice Latimer and her husband Patrick move in, things take a sudden turn. Alice suspects that Victor's wife had actually been murdered in that locked room and that the footsteps and noises at night symbolize her spirit's manifestation and the wish to expose her murderer. Consequently an experiment is planned in the attic: Patrick will stay in the haunted room to confirm Mrs. Darnley's manifestation and the door will be sealed with wax and a rare coin while somebody knocks on the door every half an hour to see whether Patrick answers and everything is fine. When Patrick ceases to answer and the seal is removed, Patrick is not in the room and instead the corpse of another person lies on the floor!
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Alexander and Norma Gold are asked to help prove their friend Pearl's niece's fiance innocent after he was found bent over his employer's dying body with the bloody knife in his hands. The victim is Roger Talbott, one of America's most famous Architects, and the crime scene is his studio floor atop his brownstone mansion, which was as securely guarded as a fortress by various devices. With the date of the trial getting closer, Alexander is forced to solve this puzzle quickly, which isn't exactly the most appropriate activity while recovering from a heart attack...
Alexander and Norma are invited by billionaire Max Baron to join him and his family during a performance of the Boguslav Ballet. Baron suspects someone "reading his mind", or simply put the leakage of information, and the request for Alexander to solve that issue is the original purpose for the invitation, However Alec and Norma are soon hired for something entirely different, when Viktor Boguslav is stabbed in the theatre box adjoining the Barons and the Golds, only parted by a curtain and with Baron's son Jeffrey as Boguslav's assistant sleeping right behind his employer in the cloakroom in front of a locked door! The Golds have a mere deadline of less than three days to prove someone else than Jeffrey could do it.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Hollywood star Marcia Tait wants to pay the British producers back who did not believe in her talent back then, so she plans on playing the lead in a play of the Bohun brothers. One night, while she stays in their 17th-century pavilion on their property, she is beaten to death and only the footprints of the man who discovered the corpse are found outside in unbroken snow. However Marcia clearly was murdered before it stopped snowing that night. James Bennett, another guest of the Bohuns, calls Inspector Masters and his uncle Sir Henry Merrivale to solve this impossible situation.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
York Hatter had been missing for some time and is eventually found after apparently having jumped from a ferry and poisoning himself before that to commit suicide. Afterwards follow two attempts to poison his deaf, blind and mute step-daughter Louisa Campion. In the second case, her mother Emily Hatter, who is sleeping in the same room, is knocked down with York's old mandolin and dies from shock. The rest of the case isn't any less abnormal than the Hatter family itself and to make sense of the happenings, Inspector Thumm needs the help of Drury Lane.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Ichiyanagi Kenzou was supposed to have a bright future as a university scholar, but became ill and since then withdrew in the mansion of his family. Suddenly, at the age of 40, he decides to marry the 15 years younger Kubo Katsuko. She is a respectable young woman earning her own money as a girls school teacher, but the marriage is not exactly tolerated from the Ichiyanagis. Even though they still believe in standing and pedigree instead of thinking of the present and future, the ceremony takes place eventually. However at 4 in the morning screams and the shrill plucking of a koto rouse the family and their guests. When they look after the newly wed couple in their annex, they find them gruesomely slaughtered by a katana that is found stuck in the snow around the rear entrance. What is more, the sliding doors were locked from the inside and no footprints of the culprit were found that could hint at the culprit's escape... Kindaichi Kousuke, a detective that became renowned recently, is summoned to call this locked room murder.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
During a garden party on Lord Ashe's estate in the village of Six Ashes, Dick Markham's fiancee Lesley Grant visits the tent of a fortune teller and leaves it rather unsettled. To see what the man told her, Dick pays him a visit himself, but before the fortune teller can tell him anything, he gets wounded by a shot from a rifle when Lesley is at a shooting range. Of course she claims she did it accidentally, but later that evening the injured fortune teller invites Dick over to his house to reveal his real identity. He is Sir Harvey Gilman, a pathologist and expert on crime, and tells him about his fiancee, her real age and her past husbands/lovers and how all three of them died through prussic acid in a locked room - apparently suicide, but Sir Harvey assumes Lesley got hold of her fortune by killing the men with some ingenious trick. And he wants to try a little experiment with Dick the next day, as Lesley invited him for dinner in her cottage. The following morning an unrecognizable caller summons Dick to Sir Harvey's cottage again and there he witnesses a shadow shooting through the window of Sir Harvey's sitting room. However the bullet does not hit him and it is not the reason for his death. He died through prussic acid injected with a hypodermic syringe while all the windows and doors of the room were locked. But then why did someone shoot through the window with the same rifle Lesley used when she accidentally shot through the tent the day before - or wasn't it accidentally after all?
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Dr. Luke Croxley, the narrator of this novel, gets a visit by one of his son's patients. Rita Wainwright's worries are not of medical nature though. She has an affair with a younger man called Barry Sullivan, a young American actor, while being married to her older husband Alec. The latter however is more interested in radio broadcasts about recent war developments than what his wife does behind his back. Rita is fond of Alec and does not want to hurt him, but at the same time she feels the urge to run away with Barry. One night when Croxley is over at the Wainwrights Rita and Barry vanish, leaving two sets of footprints leading to the end of a cliff and not coming back. Later the dead bodies are found, but they did not die from the fall or from drowning. They were shot at close range.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Mystery writer Arisugawa Arisu and his friend and clinical criminologist Himura Hideo are invited to the mansion of locked room writer genius Makabe Seiichi, who during the Christmas party announces that his next novel and therefore his 46th locked room is going to be the last one. The invited writers and editors are shocked but the topic soon changes when strange presents are found in the guests' rooms and an unknown man is seen prowling around the mansion. The situation comes to its peak when Makabe and (apparently) the unknown man are found in two different locked rooms, both burned in fireplaces. In one of them the police finds the remains of what seems to be (now rendered unreadable) notes of Makabe's last locked room trick. Was the Japanese Carr murdered with his own idea?
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Abigail Doorn, benefactress of the Dutch Memorial Hospital, is due for operation, but when her comatose body is wheeled into the operation theatre, she is already dead. She must have been strangulated in the anteroom next to the amphitheatre. The anaesthetist Francis Janney, the strongest suspect who benefits from Doorn's death and was witnessed being in the anteroom by several persons, has a rather insufficient alibi since he had a meeting with an unknown person called Swanson, whose identity he does not want to give away. Was Janney impersonated? It takes a second murder for Ellery Queen to deduce the murderer from a set of various clues - most prominently a pair of white canvas shoes.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Professor Stangerson's daughter Mathilde is attacked and almost killed in her room, which was locked and bolted from the inside at the time of the attempted murder. Footprints lead out of one of the windows in the pavilion, but the shutters were closed and all the other windows of the building are barred. How did the attacker enter and leave the hermetically sealed room without being noticed by the professor and his servant? It's up to journalist and amateur detective Joseph Rouletabille to solve this classic in detective fiction.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Any avid dorama viewer will already have seen this by now and surprisingly I also regret not watching this right away, as it's actually better than I expected. Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de is an adaptation of two novels of the same name written by humor mystery author Higashigawa Tokuya and while there's a lot of comedy in it (apparently even more so in the TV version), it also entertains with solid mysteries.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I used to think it would not be of much use to blog about English detective novels that are actually available via print on demand or Kindle, unlike many other classics. But then again, you could also see it the opposite way and think the mention of these novels is even more important considering efforts are made to make these available again. And since I knew I could not make a somewhat meaningful post on my recent reading of The Plague Court Murders without mentioning the other Carr novels I've read so far, I figured I might as well sum them up together.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
World-famous painter and sculptor Shirakashi Munenao and his family finally appear in the media after Munenao began accepting interviews and building their strange mansion in the depth of Kyouto's Mt. Hiei. The Shirakashi were mostly living in secrecy before and their inbred family tree draws the public attention. When journalists Kisaragi Uyuu and Anjou Norisada visit their mansion for an article about Munenao's new painting, Shirakashi Akika's severed head is found on her piano. Due to unbroken snow surrounding the mansion, only one of its inhabitants could be the murderer. However, due to huge digital clocks in every room making their movements perfectly rememberable, all of them possess alibis for the hour in which the murder must have been committed!
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
French's Department Store on Fifth Avenue is the place for modern living and exhibits fancy furniture every day in a special show window at noon, which became an event on the street. One day when the demonstrator pushes a button to unfold a bed from the wall, a corpse slides from the sheets! Inspector Queen and his son Ellery arrive at the scene and eventually conclude that the murderer must be an employee or otherwise affiliated person of the store and so Ellery sets out to narrow down the only possible culprit.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The 22nd floor of the Chancellor Hotel includes both the Kirk family's suites and the office of Donald Kirk's Mandarin press. In a waiting room of said office a man is found murdered by a poker smashed over his head and with two african spears pushed through his clothes. The just as strange fact about his clothes however is, that they are entirely reversed - just as everything else in that whole room has been turned backwards! On top of that, all the people living or working on that floor claim to have never seen this man before...
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Ellery and his father wind up in a forest fire and have to refuge in the Xaviers' mansion. While being hospitable there is a strange tension among the inhabitants and the reason for the other guests' stay only becomes apparent after Dr. John Xavier is found murdered in his study, his right hand grapping a six of spades torn in half.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Eleven-year-old Mamoru finds himself being handed over by his parents to a strange facility that certainly is not on Japanese ground. Even knowing he will return to his parents when starting middle school, he needed some time to adjust to the new environment but eventually got used to it and found new friends among the other five students in the rather unusual residental school in the midst of nowhere.
Half a year after he arrived at the facility, the students finally start to discuss various theories about why they are gathered in this building from all over the world to routinely work on the deduction workshop's assignments.
When a seventh student is announced, things start to distort like they did when another student arrived before Mamoru came and eventually disappeared without any trace. Is there really a black evil something in this facility that despises change? Everything gets out of control when the first murder happens...
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
After Another and its unnecessary length deprived me of too much reading time, I felt the urge to read something I knew I'd definitely enjoy in at least some way, so I picked up this second short story collection by Maya Yutaka featuring his arrogant and always brilliant detective Mercator Ayu and his assistant and mystery writer Minagi Sanjou, which was waiting on my desk far too long.