counter create hit The Plague Court Murders - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

The Plague Court Murders

Availability: Ready to download

There had always been whispers of ghosts when people spoke of the deserted and sinister old mansion in Plague Court; and when Chief-Inspector Masters, genial ghost-layer of the London police, broke into the little stone house in the rear court, he found the body of Darworth, the medium, stabbed to death on the floor. The door had been bolted from within and locked from wit There had always been whispers of ghosts when people spoke of the deserted and sinister old mansion in Plague Court; and when Chief-Inspector Masters, genial ghost-layer of the London police, broke into the little stone house in the rear court, he found the body of Darworth, the medium, stabbed to death on the floor. The door had been bolted from within and locked from without, and there was no other means of getting in or out. Yet there lay Darworth - and besides him the dagger that had belonged to Plague Court's most evil and persistent ghost. It was a question that was not to be answered that night either by Masters, or by any of that strangely assorted group which had congregated at Plague Court. They began to ask themselves if the ghost of Louis Playge, one time assistant to the hangman, had not really come back to haunt the slime and decay of the court that bore his name.


Compare

There had always been whispers of ghosts when people spoke of the deserted and sinister old mansion in Plague Court; and when Chief-Inspector Masters, genial ghost-layer of the London police, broke into the little stone house in the rear court, he found the body of Darworth, the medium, stabbed to death on the floor. The door had been bolted from within and locked from wit There had always been whispers of ghosts when people spoke of the deserted and sinister old mansion in Plague Court; and when Chief-Inspector Masters, genial ghost-layer of the London police, broke into the little stone house in the rear court, he found the body of Darworth, the medium, stabbed to death on the floor. The door had been bolted from within and locked from without, and there was no other means of getting in or out. Yet there lay Darworth - and besides him the dagger that had belonged to Plague Court's most evil and persistent ghost. It was a question that was not to be answered that night either by Masters, or by any of that strangely assorted group which had congregated at Plague Court. They began to ask themselves if the ghost of Louis Playge, one time assistant to the hangman, had not really come back to haunt the slime and decay of the court that bore his name.

30 review for The Plague Court Murders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    The Plague Court Murders is the first in a series featuring Sir Henry Merrivale, noted expert on crime, barrister, physician and all around smart guy when it comes to solving the unsolvable. Carter Dickson is one of the pseudonyms of Golden-Age mystery writer John Dickson Carr, and this book definitely falls within at category. The reader is presented with an impossible crime, with several suspects and a number of red herrings. In the introduction to this edition, it is noted that Carr was a fan The Plague Court Murders is the first in a series featuring Sir Henry Merrivale, noted expert on crime, barrister, physician and all around smart guy when it comes to solving the unsolvable. Carter Dickson is one of the pseudonyms of Golden-Age mystery writer John Dickson Carr, and this book definitely falls within at category. The reader is presented with an impossible crime, with several suspects and a number of red herrings. In the introduction to this edition, it is noted that Carr was a fan of the great Houdini, as well as spiritualism and haunted-house stories; he combined elements of all three in putting together this story. As it begins, a Mr. Dean Halliday is explaining to Ken Blake that his family home, called Plague Court, is supposedly haunted, and he invites Blake and another friend, Inspector Masters, to go with him that very night to attend a seance. Masters is interested because the seance will be handled by Roger Darworth, who is a subject under surveillance by the police, along with his medium, Joseph. But during the seance something goes terribly wrong, and Darworth, who is alone, and locked in to a small stone building on the property, ends up murdered. The police are totally baffled by this impossible crime, and turn to Sir Henry Merrivale (often called "Mycroft") for help. Like a lot of Carr's work, this one is a bit long, and the prose a bit stilted and sometimes archaic. The language may try the patience of modern mystery readers (it was written in the 1930s), and also, we don't really meet Sir Henry until late in the game. The story just kind of drags until after Darworth's murder, when it begins only then to pick up some speed. And, while the core mystery is well plotted, I wasn't overwhelmed by the solution. I will say that it was fun watching things unravel, and I was definitely wrong in my choice of murderer. As noted, modern mystery readers may be a bit put off by the language and the slowness of the story at times, but those readers who are fans of books written during the Golden Age of Mystery will probably enjoy it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    Set down in the midst of decaying brick buildings, gaunt and crooked against the dawn, with their blind windows staring into it, this yard was uncanny in its desolation. You felt that no church-bells, or street-organs, or any homely, human sound could ever penetrate it. The Plague Court Murders (1934) by Carter Dickson [John Dickson Carr] is the first in the Sir Henry (H. M.) Merrivale mysteries by the locked room master. It is a nice little puzzle with gothic and supernatural undertones and a th Set down in the midst of decaying brick buildings, gaunt and crooked against the dawn, with their blind windows staring into it, this yard was uncanny in its desolation. You felt that no church-bells, or street-organs, or any homely, human sound could ever penetrate it. The Plague Court Murders (1934) by Carter Dickson [John Dickson Carr] is the first in the Sir Henry (H. M.) Merrivale mysteries by the locked room master. It is a nice little puzzle with gothic and supernatural undertones and a thoroughly unpleasant villain. Merrivale comes into the story about mid-way. We begin with Ken Blake at his club. He is approached by an old friend, Dean Halliday, with an unusual request. He wants Blake to come with him that very night and join him at a vigil at a haunted house. The house in question belongs to Halliday's family and has a history of murder and death. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of the original owner, one Louis Playge who was a hangman and died in mysterious circumstances during the years of the Plague. Halliday's aunt, Lady Benning, and fiancee Marion Latimer are devotees of a medium/psychic and are determined to hold a vigil in the house while Roger Darworth and his medium, a young boy named Joseph, work to purge the house of its ghosts. Halliday wants Blake's assistance to prove the psychic a charlatan and they both call upon Chief Inspector Masters of the Yard (who dabbles in the art of exposing psychic fakes himself) to lend a hand. Meanwhile, the Playge Dagger--originally belonging to the hangman and donated by the Halliday family to a London Museum--has been stolen. During the vigil, Halliday, his aunt, fiancee and her brother Ted, and Major Featherton (family friend) stay together in a room while Darworth is installed in a lonely stone building in the courtyard. The door is locked (both outside and in), the widows are closely barred, and surrounding the building is about thirty feet of smooth mud. And, yet, during the night Darworth will apparently be stabbed to death by a ghostly hand wielding the missing Playge Dagger. Masters is sure it's murder by a human hand, but can't see how the thing was done. Locked room expert, Sir Henry Merrivale is pressed into service "one more time" to show them all how it was done. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this one--especially with all the details from the years of Louis Playge. It gave the story a nice ghost-story feel. Of course, H.M. dumps cold water on the idea that any supernatural forces are at play, but the build-up to the murders is very nicely done. The plot is not quite a smoothly polished as later Dickson novels will be, but it still a clever puzzle and Dickson manages to show you how it was done while firmly telling you that it couldn't have been done that way. Nobody says you have to believe characters implicitly when they tell you things....★★★ and 3/4. First posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting any review content. Thanks.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This is the first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery written by John Dickson Carr under his nom de plume of Carter Dickson. The recognized master of the "locked room" story. Carr doesn't cheat the reader by introducing trapdoors, hidden rooms, or other such devices to solve the mystery. Instead he illustrates how the crime could have been committed without resorting to those overworked contrivances, however far-fetched the solution. In this entry, Merrivale is called in to solve the murder of a fake ps This is the first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery written by John Dickson Carr under his nom de plume of Carter Dickson. The recognized master of the "locked room" story. Carr doesn't cheat the reader by introducing trapdoors, hidden rooms, or other such devices to solve the mystery. Instead he illustrates how the crime could have been committed without resorting to those overworked contrivances, however far-fetched the solution. In this entry, Merrivale is called in to solve the murder of a fake psychic who, it appears, has been slashed to death inside an impregnable room. There are many suspects, all of whom were being bilked by the so-called psychic but how did the murderer get inside that room? All is not what it appears and the solution is outlandish. These stories are not for everyone and the writing style is reminiscent of turn of the 20th century detective tales......but it is rather fun!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    The Plague Court Murders is the first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery, by American writer John Dickson Carr, who wrote it under the name of Carter Dickson. This book says it is written by Carter Dickson, but he also used the names Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn. I wonder if he ever used his own or if he got confused who was writing what. He was a master of so-called locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery The Hollow Man (1935), usually co The Plague Court Murders is the first Sir Henry Merrivale mystery, by American writer John Dickson Carr, who wrote it under the name of Carter Dickson. This book says it is written by Carter Dickson, but he also used the names Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn. I wonder if he ever used his own or if he got confused who was writing what. He was a master of so-called locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery The Hollow Man (1935), usually considered Carr's masterpiece, was selected during 1981 as the best locked-room mystery of all time by a panel of 17 mystery authors and reviewers. He was also an author of historical mystery. Now I have to go in search of The Hollow Man, I want to read the masterpiece. I wonder what name he used for that one. I found this interesting: "During early spring 1963, while living in Mamaroneck, New York, Carr suffered a stroke, which paralyzed his left side. He continued to write using one hand, and for several years contributed a regular column of mystery and detective book reviews, "The Jury Box", to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine." If I were a writer (which I'm not) I would try writing with only one hand to see if it is hard to do, it doesn't seem like it would be, you only use one hand in the first place, although having the other one to hold the paper down would probably be welcomed. I guess I could try it even if I'm not a writer, you can still write without making a book of the thing. I found that Carr's two major detective characters, Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale, are quite similar. Both are large, upper-class, eccentric Englishmen somewhere between middle-aged and elderly. I'll take their word on it for Dr. Fell, I never heard of the guy before, but Sir Henry Merrivale shows up in this book eventually. Henry Merrivale or "H.M.", although stout and with a majestic "corporation", is active physically and is feared for his ill-temper and noisy rages. A wealthy descendant of the "oldest baronetcy" in England, he is part of the Establishment (even though he frequently rails against it) and in the earlier novels is the director of the British Secret Service. Even though he is supposed to be such a main character, I was beginning to think that the paragraph on the back of my book was meant for something else and got on our book by accident: "Paging Sir Henry Merrivale.....that rumbling, grumbling grand old man who has become one of the best-loved detectives in mystery fiction. When Scotland Yard is faced with the perfect murder, the insoluble problem, "impossible" clues, they know that only Old H. M. has the ingenuity and gall to put all the pieces together. In The Plague Court Murders, Sir Henry confronts one of the most chilling and dramatic crimes of his long career." From that paragraph I expected to find the murdered person on the first page and Sir Henry arriving by the end of the first chapter. That isn't what happened though. Yes, there is a murder, more than one, but the first doesn't happen until page 50 which is chapter six, and Sir Henry has to wait quite awhile to enter the book while the police and such people try to solve the crime themselves. Finally on page 105 they all give up and go to Sir Henry, in chapter 13, this may not seem like it is that much of a surprise, after all, only 105 pages have been read and there must be hundreds more right? No, not hundreds, not a hundred, in about 50 pages we will all know who murdered who or whom, I don't know which, and all the loose ends will be tied. But we will start with our narrator being in his club one night when an old friend of his, Dean Halliday comes in and asks our narrator whose name I can't remember at the time, if he will be willing to go spend the night in a "haunted" house. Dean begins with this: "Listen, Blake, (oh yeah, that's his name), I could tell you the whole story, if you insist on knowing. I don't want you to walk in blindfold. But I'd rather you didn't ask anything. I want you to go with me, tonight, to a certain house in London; to tell me whether you see or hear anything; and, if you do, whether you can explain it on natural grounds. There'll be no difficulty about getting into the house. It belongs to our family, as a matter of fact...Will you go? Yes, Blake goes. So does a detective by the name of Masters, I don't know his first name. Not only is he an inspector from Scotland Yard, but his hobby is ghosts: "Masters makes rather a hobby of this." I smiled again, thinking of Masters the unruffled, Masters the ghost-breaker; the big, stout, urbane man who was as pleasant as a card-sharper and as cynical as Houdini. During the spiritualistic craze that took England after the war, he was a detective-sergeant whose chief business was the exposing of bogus mediums. Since then his interest had increased (apologetically) into a hobby. In the workshop of his little house at Hampstead, surrounded by his approving children, he tinkered with ingenious devices of parlor magic; and was altogether highly pleased with himself." And of course, he goes with them. And from here lots of things happen rather fast. A dagger disappears from the London Museum, the dagger was listed as the gift of a property owned by J. G. Halliday, one of Dean's long ago relatives I suppose, and was believed to have been the property of one Louis Playge, Common Hangman during the years 1663-65. This guy had an awful and appropriate name seeing he died during the great plague of 1665. That's not a spoiler, you'll know that in a page or two. So the three men arrive at Plague Court; "We all moved softly; I don't know why. Possibly because there seemed such an absolute hush in the desolation of the house before us. Something seemed to be impelling us to move faster; to get inside those high brick walls; something drawing us on and playing with us. The house-or what I could see of it-was made of heavy, whitish blocks of stone, now blackened with the weather. Following Halliday, we went to a weedy brick path to the carven porch over the front door. The door itself was more than ten feet high, and had a corroded knocker still hanging drunkenly from one bolt." About this time they realize the door is open, although why anyone would want to go in this place was a mystery to me, they here somebody scream, a real person, not a ghost. So the three of them burst into a room and find Halliday's aunt, Lady Benning, and his fiancé, Marion. From what I remember dear Aunt Anne, adored Halliday's brother James. She does not seem to have the same feelings for Dean. Lady Benning is there to "find" James. She tells them not to be afraid in that room because "they" cannot come into this room". They, according to his aunt had taken possession of James and that is why he shot himself. At which time Halliday responds "Aunt Anne, are you trying to drive me mad?" I feel the same way. But Lady Benning goes on to say: "I loved James," said Lady Bening, and her face was suddenly pitted with wrinkles. "He was strong, but he could not stand them. So they will come for you, because you are James's brother and you are alive. James told me so, and he cannot...you see, it is to give him peace. Not you, James. And until this thing is exorcised, not you nor James will sleep." Nice lady. And here come the rest of the group. We find that Mr. Darworth is here, but he is resting. Mr. Darworth is, well he's the guy who's been contacting James, a medium or a psychic, or some such thing. Dean tells us that Lady Benning, Marion, and her brother all know him well, and they are planning to hold a séance that night to rid the house of evil spirits, something like that. If I remember it right Mr. Darworth won't be in the room when it comes time to confront the ghosts, a young boy who goes everywhere with be will be the one who speaks to the ghosts, he has great powers, but they are receptive. Mr. Darworth is going to be on the other side of the yard in a little stone house, I can't remember why there is a little stone house in the yard, but there is. And just now Marian's brother Ted and another friend Major Featherton are in the stone house getting the fire ready for Darworth to be comfortable in while he contacts the spirits. It is now time to be locked up, Darworth that is, and that's what they do. He's locked in the stone house, bars on the windows, bars on the doors, no way in, no way out, type of thing. There's also a man by the name of McDonnell there, he's another police detective. He's looking for the dagger, remember that dagger that disappeared? Since Darworth is locked up it is time for the séance, so everybody, almost everybody, gathers in the room with the big table, I guess there's a big table and turn the lights out, just about the time ghosts should have started showing up a bell starts ringing, and every one runs out of the room and find a dead person. Be prepared to see a spoiler, the dead person is one of the people who were not in the room with everybody else. How's that for a spoiler. Now we have to figure out how the murderer in the room with all the other people managed to sneak out of the room, murder the murderee, and get back in again without anyone noticing . As we hunt for the murderer the only way we can cross suspects off our list is because sooner or later they also get murdered. And that's all of the plot you get from me. A rather surprising thing happened when I was reading this book. I mentioned in a different review the other day that I hate when pages fall out of a book and don't start reading it in the first place if it looks close to being in that shape. So recently I was reading a book and when the pages started falling out I threw the book away. I then moved on to "The Plague Court Murders" and everything was fine until somewhere in the middle of the book when after turning a page I found I was holding the first half of the book in my left hand and the second half in my right hand, a perfectly normal thing except there was nothing holding it together in the middle. Since the book had conveniently only split into two halves I kept going and made it to the end. By the end though it was in three pieces, maybe four. Happy reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yvette

    great atmospheric read. locked room mysteries are always a wild ride. the reveal at the end does have a 'ohhhh wow that's so obvious how could i have missed that??', and it's well-written to keep me hooked throughout. i enjoy sir henry merrivale's character. quotes: the rain ran soft-footed through the house; splashing and echoing in its mysterious places. it was a cold night; so cold that sounds acquired a new sharpness, and breath hung in smoke on the luminous air. great atmospheric read. locked room mysteries are always a wild ride. the reveal at the end does have a 'ohhhh wow that's so obvious how could i have missed that??', and it's well-written to keep me hooked throughout. i enjoy sir henry merrivale's character. quotes: the rain ran soft-footed through the house; splashing and echoing in its mysterious places. it was a cold night; so cold that sounds acquired a new sharpness, and breath hung in smoke on the luminous air.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    You can read my full review at https://bedfordbookshelf.com/the-plag... You can read my full review at https://bedfordbookshelf.com/the-plag...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stina

    Book #32 for 2017 Follow the Clues: Trail #1, Clue #10 Mt TBR #12 Old Firehouse Books Summer Bingo Square: A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old Personal Challenge: A book about a haunted building PopSugar Challenge (max. 3): - A book that is a story within a story - A book by an author who uses a pseudonym - The first book in a series you haven't read before Read Harder Challenge: A book published between 1900 & 1950 Better World Books: A book set in a place you want to visit (London) Vintage Mystery Cov Book #32 for 2017 Follow the Clues: Trail #1, Clue #10 Mt TBR #12 Old Firehouse Books Summer Bingo Square: A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old Personal Challenge: A book about a haunted building PopSugar Challenge (max. 3): - A book that is a story within a story - A book by an author who uses a pseudonym - The first book in a series you haven't read before Read Harder Challenge: A book published between 1900 & 1950 Better World Books: A book set in a place you want to visit (London) Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt: a bird This was the first book in the Sir Henry Merrivale series, but it's interesting that early covers did not recognize that and instead listed Masters as the detective. Indeed, Masters does a huge amount of detecting -- and not a terrible job of it, either -- before we even meet Merrivale, who kind of swoops in and, after getting his bearings, saves the day. So you might say that the pacing of the book is a bit awkward. I'm rather proud of myself for picking up on an important piece of the scheme (which Masters totally missed) that enabled me to stay a half-step ahead of the solution for almost the entire book. Almost. I do have to admit that the actual murder method didn't occur to me, as I am a little too accustomed to modern ideas of thoroughness in post mortem exams. Still, very clever obfuscation and another example of why John Dickson Carr was considered the master of the locked-room mystery. I enjoyed the Gothic details sprinkled throughout for gruesome effect. Going back and forth between the 20th-century investigation and the 17th-century ghost tale was quite effective. I found it particularly interesting to look up the locations as best I could, as quite a bit of it took place in my old stamping grounds, and then it was fun to overlay the locations in The Dark Days Club to see what matched up there as well. Despite some flaws, this story held together quite well, and I'd recommend it to any fan of locked-room puzzles or anybody looking for a Golden Age police procedural.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jack Chapman

    Like many people I often complain about the unjustifiable price of ebooks compared to paperback prices (even before factoring in the cost of the reading device). This week I came across a good article in The Verge pointing out that price isn't the only scandal. So what do publishers do to make their e-product worth the cost? Nothing it seems. The article is worth a read The Verge I bought a Kindle edition of The Plague Court Murders from Amazon's US store, published by Langtail Press. Now to be f Like many people I often complain about the unjustifiable price of ebooks compared to paperback prices (even before factoring in the cost of the reading device). This week I came across a good article in The Verge pointing out that price isn't the only scandal. So what do publishers do to make their e-product worth the cost? Nothing it seems. The article is worth a read The Verge I bought a Kindle edition of The Plague Court Murders from Amazon's US store, published by Langtail Press. Now to be fair it's come down in price a lot since I paid for it and is currently only a third of the cost of the paperback – in fact it would be a bargain if the legal position wasn't that we're only leasing ebooks (despite Amazon calling it 'buying') with no right of second-hand resale, no right even to lend our purchases to a friend. But I enjoyed the book which I read mostly beside a Portugese swimming pool. The short review I sent in to Amazon went: Not the greatest of Carr's mysteries but essential reading for aficionados since it was the first in a masterful series. Carr was an anglophile American and so can be compared to SS Van Dine and Ellery Queen as much as the English tradition in his emphasis on the 'How done it?' as well as the 'Who done it?'. Immensely entertaining - this is what kept people amused in the days before television. Recommended for your Kindle vacation reading. Wow, that must have been a good vacation I was on. What I failed to point out was that the edition is a prime example of the low publishing standards covered in The Verge's article. The ebook has no cover illustration (the Goodreads entry seems inaccurate about this), no table of contents for chapter navigation, and copious examples of inadequate (or no) proofreading after the OCR conversion. I'll stand by my recommendation that the book is worth getting for Carr's story – but don't let that stop you complaining to the publisher and to the Kindle store about the low production quality.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This book introduces my favorite fictional detective, "H.M.", aka Sir Henry Merrivale, aka "The Maestro," aka "Mycroft," aka "The Old Man," among other nicknames. This book is the first featuring one of Carter Dickson/ John Dickson Carr's two major detectives (the other being Gideon Fell.) H.M. is cranky, lazy, rude, and brilliant. Often he is extremely funny as well, though more so in the later books in the series. He is like a more aggressive Nero Wolfe, or a fatter and more gregarious Sherloc This book introduces my favorite fictional detective, "H.M.", aka Sir Henry Merrivale, aka "The Maestro," aka "Mycroft," aka "The Old Man," among other nicknames. This book is the first featuring one of Carter Dickson/ John Dickson Carr's two major detectives (the other being Gideon Fell.) H.M. is cranky, lazy, rude, and brilliant. Often he is extremely funny as well, though more so in the later books in the series. He is like a more aggressive Nero Wolfe, or a fatter and more gregarious Sherlock Holmes--and his brilliance at unraveling the complex mysteries that Carr/Dickson was so great at creating might surpass both of those. This book sets up a very typical, and typically chilling and fascinating, Carr/ Dickson murder puzzle: a crooked creator of seances is found gruesomely murdered in a locked room, and all signs point to a ghost that is reputed to haunt the location in question. Then another associate of the murdered man dies under bizarre circumstances, and another goes missing...and much to his annoyance H.M. is the only one who stands a chance at untangling the sordid affair. Carr/Dickson books generally combine a sinister semi-supernatural atmosphere, a complex puzzle, bawdy humor, and some romantic element, though never in quite the same way. The Plague Court Murders is unique in Dickson's output in what we ultimately learn is the central romantic relationship in the book, and the surprising yet appropriate resolution of that storyline...but to say more and risk giving away one of this fine book's many, many surprises would be criminal.

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.V. Seem

    Hmm... This is actually the first John Dickson Carr (or Carter Dickson, as this is published under) novel I haven't instantly taken a liking to. I'm very surprised at that, and I'm inclined to blame my unstable, unfocusable head for the trouble. However, I found it confusing from the word go. Naturally, and true to form, John Dickson Carr's murder plots are about as intricate and complicated as they come, but for some reason, I found it hard to keep the characters apart, which muddled the whole th Hmm... This is actually the first John Dickson Carr (or Carter Dickson, as this is published under) novel I haven't instantly taken a liking to. I'm very surprised at that, and I'm inclined to blame my unstable, unfocusable head for the trouble. However, I found it confusing from the word go. Naturally, and true to form, John Dickson Carr's murder plots are about as intricate and complicated as they come, but for some reason, I found it hard to keep the characters apart, which muddled the whole thing. And it's strange... So many things happen all at once in several different places, and so the book turns into something of a Greek play, where all the action happens offstage; we only get to hear about it secondhand, afterwards. It's a weird tug-of-war where it's at times a bit dull and you're trying to remember who's who while waiting for something to happen, and then all of a sudden, a big pile of information and things happening simultaneously is dumped on your head all at once, leaving you rather dazed and confused. But (of course there is one), like most his other works, this is also a creepy ghost story, one that gave me chills at times, with an intertwined beastly crime. At times, I found myself thinking "I quite like this," while at other times it was unable to keep my focus, and I found myself reading the same paragraph over and over. So, to conclude: Not awful, but definitely not his best.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    This was about 3 1/2 stars. It took too long to wrap up. It seemed to take forever for Merrivale to explain the whole thing. I certainly didn't get it. Carter Dickson a/k/a John Dickson Carr is the master of the closed room murder. This was about 3 1/2 stars. It took too long to wrap up. It seemed to take forever for Merrivale to explain the whole thing. I certainly didn't get it. Carter Dickson a/k/a John Dickson Carr is the master of the closed room murder.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim Deforest

    Very good Locked Room murder mystery with a fun lead character.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darius Ostrowski

    I have been spending a lot of time on golden age mysteries lately. Both the British Library Crime Classics reissues and the American Mystery Classics reissues have been wonderful in reintroducing many mystery stories from the 1920s-1940s (and beyond) to current readers. The quality of the stories varies, but since only the best are reprinted it is usually pretty good. It’s interesting to see how the language, the style, and what’s viewed as acceptable behavior has changed over time. Having said a I have been spending a lot of time on golden age mysteries lately. Both the British Library Crime Classics reissues and the American Mystery Classics reissues have been wonderful in reintroducing many mystery stories from the 1920s-1940s (and beyond) to current readers. The quality of the stories varies, but since only the best are reprinted it is usually pretty good. It’s interesting to see how the language, the style, and what’s viewed as acceptable behavior has changed over time. Having said all of that, I am having a hard time with John Dickson Carr. Recognized as the master of locked room puzzles, Mr. Carr had a long successful career with many recurring characters and was generally acclaimed by the critics and reading public. Having read 3 or 4 of his books, I find him long-winded and confusing (at times), his main characters are often cocky and unlikeable, and the solutions are either a bit far-fetched or repetitive. As far as his detectives, I really don’t like Gideon Fell (at all), I was a fan of Henri Bencolin (big, overblown gothic mystery), here we have Sir Henry Merrivale who falls somewhere between the two. “The Plague Court Murders” was written by Mr. Carr under his Carter Dickson pseudonym. Our narrator is Ken Blake, who is asked by his friend Dean Halliday to attend a séance at his family home, Plague Court, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a hangman. Dean is looking to disprove the medium as a swindler who has taken in his aunt and fiancée. Blake recruits Inspector Masters, who specializes in debunking mediums, who is too willing to get another shot at Roger Darworth, a conman who has avoiding prosecution by the police. As the evening unfolds, Darworth is locked in a small outbuilding while our cast of characters sit in a dark room in the main house, praying, all under police supervision. Of course, Darworth is murdered in the locked room, which no one has entered or exited. The police have no answer to this impossible crime, so they bring in Sir Henry Merrivale: physician, barrister, and head of military intelligence for the war office in England. Merrivale is a cranky old man, he complains non-stop, thinks everyone is an idiot, and tries very hard not to get involved at all. Our suspects cover the classic gamut: the old ex-military man, the elder aunt, the fiancée, the old college chum, the boy assistant who was in on the scams. We also have the supporting cast: the landlady who knows nothing, the ex-wife who mysteriously vanished, the current(?) wife living abroad. When someone disappears and another character gets murdered, will Sir Merrivale be able to solve the impossible mystery before the killer strikes again? A bit long-winded, it doesn’t really get interesting until they bring Merrivale in a third of the way into the book. Confusing at times, the ghost story aspect doesn’t really factor in, the conclusion was a bit disappointing. I’m not sure how much more time I will devote to Mr. Carr with so many other good stories out there. I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Penzler Publishers via NetGalley. Thank you!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frosta Wings It

    4.5 stars I am so excited to have read this book! I am a John Dickson Carr fan and have so far only been acquainted with Dr. Gideon Fell and Carr’s radio plays. I am so thankful to NetGalley and Penzler Publishers for having granted me the opportunity to read and revies this Sir Henry Merrivale mystery. This book is another one of Carr’s signature suspenseful, masterfully plotted locked room mysteries. How this man could conceptualize and execute so many fresh and original locked room mysteries, I 4.5 stars I am so excited to have read this book! I am a John Dickson Carr fan and have so far only been acquainted with Dr. Gideon Fell and Carr’s radio plays. I am so thankful to NetGalley and Penzler Publishers for having granted me the opportunity to read and revies this Sir Henry Merrivale mystery. This book is another one of Carr’s signature suspenseful, masterfully plotted locked room mysteries. How this man could conceptualize and execute so many fresh and original locked room mysteries, I know not. Though thankful I am. In “The Plague Court Murders”, a dubious medium is stabbed during a séance he had planned, and his body found in a locked room in a atmospheric mansion with a spooky history. I loved the ambience and characterization in this novel. All characters are very distinct and charming in their own way, clearly representation of their era. I just love the carelessness of privileged 1930’s male youth and how they talked to each other, and I feel Carr did a superb job transporting me to that mansion and the events there occurred. Carr superpower is his ability to write, for sure. He manages to grant personality to sentences and each word and punctuation choice is careful, purposeful. You can almost hear them breathe as they jump from the page and surround you, giving you no choice but to be transported to the world Carr chooses to create. I was worried that H.M. would be like Fell, but he wasn’t. He is just as delightful, but completely himself. He is a little cheeky, extremely smart and unapologetically himself. The book became so much better once he made his appearance. Not that Chief-Inspector Masters is much behind. This duo had me cracking up and in a great mood as I investigated the case with them. Carr also plays extremely fair, which makes it for an enjoyable read. I hope that Penzler Publishers continues to reprint all of Carr’s works, especially Merrivale’s stories. I want to read them all and so should everyone! #Netgalley #theplaguecourtmurders

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I had no idea it took me so long to finish this. I think it was mostly because my copy of the book is so old, the pages were literally falling apart as I turned them, so I didn't want to tote it everywhere with me like I normally would a book I was reading. I enjoyed it, and the writing was fun. The last few chapters were much better than the rest of the book. I think this is a book that was shown or mentioned during the movie The Bookshop. No library had it, so I picked up a copy. I had no idea it took me so long to finish this. I think it was mostly because my copy of the book is so old, the pages were literally falling apart as I turned them, so I didn't want to tote it everywhere with me like I normally would a book I was reading. I enjoyed it, and the writing was fun. The last few chapters were much better than the rest of the book. I think this is a book that was shown or mentioned during the movie The Bookshop. No library had it, so I picked up a copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rama

    With a very Conan Doyle-ish plot, the book is rife with digs at the Victorian spiritualism that Conan Doyle engrossed himself with through the voice of the "lovable" (?) socialist, Henry Merrivale (HM). A knotty, not-so-good first outing for HM, you fatheads! With a very Conan Doyle-ish plot, the book is rife with digs at the Victorian spiritualism that Conan Doyle engrossed himself with through the voice of the "lovable" (?) socialist, Henry Merrivale (HM). A knotty, not-so-good first outing for HM, you fatheads!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam Carson

    A dark tale that's spooky and atmospheric! Took me a while to get in Dickson-Carr's writing style but he skillfully leads you through an impossible murder. A great read! A dark tale that's spooky and atmospheric! Took me a while to get in Dickson-Carr's writing style but he skillfully leads you through an impossible murder. A great read!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane Stewart

    A humdinger! Quote: “Angela is very modern, which I am not; she has her hair shorn and displays a great deal of back.”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erth

    now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page. The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real. i would highly recommend this author and this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    France-Andrée

    This was my first time reading a book featuring Sir Henry Merrivale. I have a suspicion, I have read short-stories with him before because the name and description was very, very familiar. I thought starting by the first book written with him was the right place to begin my exploration. I thought the mystery took a little time setting up. I guess the first chapters before the first murder (I think with the title being what it is this is not a spoiler!), where there's a lot of set-up which pays of This was my first time reading a book featuring Sir Henry Merrivale. I have a suspicion, I have read short-stories with him before because the name and description was very, very familiar. I thought starting by the first book written with him was the right place to begin my exploration. I thought the mystery took a little time setting up. I guess the first chapters before the first murder (I think with the title being what it is this is not a spoiler!), where there's a lot of set-up which pays off at the end of the story, had difficulty keeping my attention. Once that part was over and we were in the investigating, I became more interested; but the best part of the book is when we finally meet Sir Henry Merrivale. I definitely loved the character and wish he had been in from the start, I like his way of investigating which does remind me a little of Poirot: he's all in his head and a little of Sherlock Holmes: he can deduce a lot from physical clues. The Plague Court Murders is a locked-room mystery. Sometimes those can me very interesting or very contrived. This mystery was interesting, made sense at the end (big bonus!) and introduced a well loved character. I'll be reading some more stories featuring Sir Henry Merrivale.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Conina

    There is something about this book that kept me unwilling to keep reading it. All the explanations and descriptions were more like "hiding"&"confusing" than "revealing". All the characters were often named by their first name that wasn't mentioned before that, so I kept being confused about who is who. The "main" character, according to the text on the back, appeared long after I have lost hope and thought that maybe there was some mistake with the name. All the detective's names were starting w There is something about this book that kept me unwilling to keep reading it. All the explanations and descriptions were more like "hiding"&"confusing" than "revealing". All the characters were often named by their first name that wasn't mentioned before that, so I kept being confused about who is who. The "main" character, according to the text on the back, appeared long after I have lost hope and thought that maybe there was some mistake with the name. All the detective's names were starting with M which confused me a lot during the first several chapters. I never understood what's the purpose of the main story-teller through which eyes the readers follow the action; I was confused about his history and his connections to the police and why was he never a suspect. The time (or should I say century) in which the crime took place was also a big mystery to me; at the end I had to turn the first page and read that the author's activity was in XVIII c.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I wasn't sure about this book at the start. The backstory about the history of the house (Plague Court is the name of a house) was a bit too old-fashioned and gothic for me. Once H.M. comes into it the pace picked up considerably and once the mystery of the locked room started to unravel I couldn't put it down. I wasn't sure about this book at the start. The backstory about the history of the house (Plague Court is the name of a house) was a bit too old-fashioned and gothic for me. Once H.M. comes into it the pace picked up considerably and once the mystery of the locked room started to unravel I couldn't put it down.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    Ken Bates has been invited by his friend Dean Halliday out to the family estate. It seems that one Louis Playge, an infamous murderer, is haunting the family. When a famous psychic is killed in a locked room with police right outside the door, they have to call in the famous Sir Merivale for help.

  24. 4 out of 5

    A Rajan

    Full of atmosphere, intricately plotted, and with well drawn characters, this is the first in the Merrivale series, and although not the best, it's quite a fun read. It's primary problem to my mind is the somewhat contrived solution. Full of atmosphere, intricately plotted, and with well drawn characters, this is the first in the Merrivale series, and although not the best, it's quite a fun read. It's primary problem to my mind is the somewhat contrived solution.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This classic locked room mystery combines elements of gothicism with the things fans of golden age mysteries except. The combination of a slightly more cerebral detection paired with moody gothic atmospherics is delightful, if a bit dated. Fun.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I didn't guess the murderer because a few things weren't clear to me. It would have helped if I was familiar with the role of Viola in Twelfth Night. Still, I don't think this was Carr's best effort. His later works were better, IMO. Interesting how even in 1934 "clue" was spelled "clew." I didn't guess the murderer because a few things weren't clear to me. It would have helped if I was familiar with the role of Viola in Twelfth Night. Still, I don't think this was Carr's best effort. His later works were better, IMO. Interesting how even in 1934 "clue" was spelled "clew."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Himitsu_no_ai

    This was one of the best books i have ever read. It's 100% captivating, and full of deduction. A "must read" for Locked Room Mysteries fans if you ask me This was one of the best books i have ever read. It's 100% captivating, and full of deduction. A "must read" for Locked Room Mysteries fans if you ask me

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pietro De Palma

    A debut with a bang. Beautiful novel with a exceptional Locked Room

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mastugae Kiyoaki

    sad to realize that i have seen the trick before

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    The first of Sir Henry Merrivale novels, a haunted castle mystery, still a bit rough around the edges.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.