Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Emperor's Snuff Box: John Dickson Carr


As far as I know, I have never read any mysteries by John Dickson Carr (or any under his other pseudonym, Carter Dickson). Many bloggers have spoken highly of his books and encourage me to try one and finally I did. I think this one was a very good choice. It is a standalone novel, not one of the series novels featuring the well-known detectives Dr. Gideon Fell or Sir Henry Merrivale.

As I started reading the novel, it seemed like a romance. Eve Neill is living in France, divorced from her first husband, Ned. She lives across the street from her fiancé, Toby, and his family. One night her ex-husband sneaks into her house to beg her to return to him, and they see someone attacking her fiancé's father, Sir Maurice Lawes. Ned falls on the stairs as he leaves the house, but seems fine and returns to his lodgings. Because Eve does not want to reveal that her ex-husband was in her house, she does not share information she has about the crime, until it is too late, and incriminates herself.

The detective in this story was a "specialist in criminal psychology," Dr  Dermot Kinross. I liked that character a lot. The Lawes' family is full of very aggravating people. I was out of patience with Toby's family for not trusting Eve, and with her for caring what they thought under the circumstances, but the story is told so well that none of my nitpicks deterred my enjoyment. The mystery plot is very clever and also fun to read. I have acquired several other books by Carr and I will be trying more of them out.

Here are some reviews from other bloggers: At Tipping My Fedora, Clothes in Books, and In so many WORDS... 

This book is submitted for the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt in the "Brunette" category.

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Publisher:  Pocket Books, 1946, orig. pub. 1942.
Length:   198 pages
Format:   paperback
Setting:   France
Genre:    Mystery
Source:   I bought my copies.

18 comments:

  1. They're not always consistently good, in my opinion, but, considering how prolific John Dickson Carr / Carter Dickson was, you have a wealth of books to choose from.

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    1. Joan, With all those books he wrote, you would think I could find them more easily at the local book sale, but I have quite a few to start with. I had heard that the quality of the book vary, and locked room mysteries have never called to me, but I liked this one (not a locked room mystery) a lot, so I am encouraged.

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  2. I agree with Joan. I've read quite a few of his books, but not this one. I'll have to look out for it. His historical crime books are worth reading too.

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    1. I will have to check and see if any of the ones I have already are historical crime books, Katrina. If not I will look for some.

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  3. I'm very glad you liked your first experience with a Carr novel, Tracy. He created some fascinating characters and some really interesting plots. And standalones can be really good ways to 'meet' an author.

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    1. I was happy that I picked one that I liked a lots, Margot, giving me the motivation to continue. Looking forward to more of them.

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  4. Tracy, I have something on the pile also, probably another 20 years until I get to it! I'm glad you enjoyed it, but I won't be bumping it up the pile.

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    1. Well, Col, it took me a long time to try one of his books, so maybe someday you will too.

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  5. An author who will continue to haunt me till I read one of his books.

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    1. I bet you would like them, Prashant. But I am no expert in this author.

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  6. And another Carr fan is born - hurrah! So glad you liked this one, it's a real favourite.

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    1. So true, Sergio, and I am eager to try more.

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  7. I really enjoyed this book too, Tracy. This is one of those where I figured out who the killer was, but still kept reading because in truth, I mostly read mysteries now for entertainment and comfort (weird, I know). I read most of John Dickson Carr when I was a teenager, but over the years forgot most of what I'd read. So I'm now rereading them for the first time all over again. Glad you enjoyed this one - a good book to begin with.

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    1. I did not figure out who the killer was, Yvette, but it would not have mattered, it still would have been a good read. I always try to figure them out but mostly not successful.

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  8. I bought a used book of several Carr novels after enticements by other bloggers here, Tracy, but the print's so small and pages so yellowed I'd need a magnifying glass to read it. At the time I ordered it I don't believe there were any Kindle versions of his work available. Maybe that's changed. I really want to read him.

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    1. I know what you mean about the tiny print and yellowed pages, Mathew. Sometimes the print on the pages of older books is fade and almost impossible to read. He is definitely an author worth trying. I hope you have luck finding ebook versions.

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  9. So glad you liked this one, Tracy, it's one of my favourites from his long list (and thanks for the shoutout). I wonder which one you will read next...

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    1. I haven't decided yet, Moira. With the books I got from the booksale I have about 10-12 titles so I guess I will go looking at some lists of favorites and try to pick another popular one.

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