"Its central portion is so weirdly constructed that the entire façade resembles a great death's head, with eyes, nose, and ragged jaw. But there are two towers, one on each side of the skull, which are rather like huge ears; so that the devilish thing, while it smiles, seems also to be listening. It is set high on a crag, with its face thrust out of the black pines."
Below the castle is the Rhine, and it is a "sheer drop" from castle to river.
|1947 Pocket Books cover from Thriftbooks|
Alison, it seems, was shot three times, but still managed to run even after his killer had doused him in kerosene and set him on fire. D'Aunay believes that Alison's death is somehow connected to Maleger's strange demise and he wants to hire Bencolin to investigate, for "not one sou," believing that the Inspector will take on, as he says to the detective, "the strangest affair you have ever handled." All of the people present at the time of Alison's death are at Alison's summer home, and an investigation is already in progress under the auspices of the Coblenz police. Bencolin takes up D'Aunay's offer, and he and Marle make their way to the scene of the crime. But once they arrive, strange things start to happen, and Bencolin finds himself in a literal competition with an old acquaintance, chief inspector of the Berlin police Herr Baron Signfried von Arnheim.
|1964 Berkeley Medallion edition, ebay|
1957 -- from ebay
"Surely never was there more fantastic, hideous gaiety than at this banquet. The guests of honor are Death and his henchman Murder. The fearful climax is approaching. Will Von Arnheim win? Will Bencolin? What fiend in human form will be revealed as the murderer?"
Above all, even though a bit on the verbose side (a standard Carr trait, evidently), Castle Skull is a fun read. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary in your crime/mystery reading, or in your crime/mystery reading particularly from this era, you can't go wrong with this series. The three I've now read were simply unputdownable, and I'm finding the same to be true with the fourth.