Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The White Priory Murders, by Carter Dickson

Carter Dickson is the pseudonym for John Dickson Carr, who was a beyond-prolific author of golden-age mysteries.  As Carter Dickson, he wrote several books featuring the character Sir Henry Merrivale, HM to his friends, who manages to get caught up in the weirdest mysteries and impossible crimes.  This book is the second in the series; the first was The Plague Court Murders, which was actually quite good. I have a review of that book here.

The White Priory Murders begins with the death of an actress. She is found in a building close to an English country house, but here's the thing: the murderer left his or her footprints in the snow going in, but none ever came out. This fact, plus a few other simple clues, lead to a mystery where everyone has a motive, but everyone also has an alibi. Once the local police have a go, it will be up to HM to solve the case.

I love these old books, but they're so incredibly verbose as to at times become distracting. The murder mystery itself, however, is good and solid. There are plenty of suspects, plenty of motives, and thus a lot of red herrings for the reader to sort through. HM's unraveling of the whole thing at the end was very well done.

If you like golden-age mysteries, you should put this one on your reading list, or if you're a fan of John Dickson Carr and haven't yet read this one, you will want to do so. Modern mystery readers might become a bit impatient due to the overdone verbiage, but on the other hand, that's kind of a signature trademark with Carr in most of his books.

Overall, not bad, not one of my favorites of Carr's books, but still a pretty good read.

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