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Night at the Mocking Widow

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 7 months ago

Carr, John Dickson as Carter Dickson - Night at the Mocking Widow (1951)

 

Disappointing Carr, with a late murder that requires no special detection and a clue so obvious one wonders if it can be genuine. The main crime here is poison pen letter-writing, which is ruining life in the village of Stoke Druid. One woman has already committed suicide, and the new young vicar, Cadman Hunter, has decided to make a crusade against the letters, when H.M. arrives to visit his bookseller friend Ralph Danvers.

 

It's difficult to sustain interest in the book, most of which is about various romantic couplings, or to maintain interest in H.M.'s antics, which include a mudfight and dressing as an Indian chief. There are occasional signs of Carr's most fatal flaw, the tendency to describe things via dialogue rather than plain prose. The solution to the one genuine mystery was just a little too implausible for my taste, though I might have swallowed it in a better book -- likewise the idea of a poison pen writer needing or wanting an accomplice, especially a half-mad one. One feels that Carr for once has fallen into the trap of choosing the least likely suspect, and glossed over the implausibilities it entails.

 

Village life itself is well described and the Mocking Widow - a prehistoric stone monolith - is suitably sinister. There are one or two moments of classic Carr. But the plot failings make this a book for completists only.

 

Jon.

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