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Hag's Nook

Page history last edited by Jon 12 years, 8 months ago

Carr, John Dickson - Hag's Nook (1933)


Review by Nick Fuller


"Incongruous in this place, crude and powerful as Stonehenge, the stone walls of Chatterham prison humped against the sky. … And "humped," Rampole thought, was the word; there was one place where they seemed to surge and buckle over the crest of a hill. Through rents in the masonry vines were crooking fingers against the moon. A teeth of spikes ran along the top, and you could see tumbled chimneys. The place looked damp and slime-painted, from occupation by lizards; it was as though the marshes had crept inside and turned stagnant."


It is in this finely atmospheric haunted prison of 1837 that the Chestertonian Dr. Fell solves his first case: the death of a sullen young drunkard during a midnight vigil. The M.R. James atmosphere is, with the possible exception of The Plague Court Murders (which introduced Sir Henry Merrivale), Carr's best (the scene at the well at midnight is excellent); and tension is well-handled. Despite the fact that by the end of Chapter 15 there are only two suspects, the hypocritical murderer's identity is surprising, due to an ingenious alibi. (However, the rather obvious clue of the handkerchief gives the entire game away.) Romance is also good—not over-done.


See also: http://doyouwriteunderyourownname.blogspot.com/2011/01/forgotten-book-hags-nook.html

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