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Rim of the Pit

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 4 months ago

Talbot, Hake - The Rim of the Pit


I can recall rushing over to "The Mysterious Bookshop" (it was in 56th Street then) to try and locate a copy of The Rim of the Pit after it had astonishingly been ranked second behind The Three Coffins in Ed Hoch's informal poll of locked room experts appearing in his 1981 anthology All But Impossible. In retrospect, I still cannot figure out how it got up so high in the rankings: it certainly wouldn't be in my top ten today.


Its main strength ---and it's not a negligible one--- is the eerily claustrophobic atmosphere inside the snow-bound hunting lodge while the wind howls outside and tales of the Wendigo are told. I would have to say it is one of the most successful atmospheric build-ups in locked-room fiction, right up there with The Plague Court Murders. The actual impossible murders (there are two) are well set up but less convincingly resolved, though they're certainly original. In my opinion it's very good, but not great.


Nevertheless, it's a lot better than Hangman's Handyman although that, too, has plenty of atmosphere. The trouble is that the basic problem (I won't describe it here) suffers in the same way as all those stories of disappearances of people, houses, trains, etc. suffer: namely that there really is only one possible solution to that kind of problem and all any given story can do is offer a variation on that basic theme. Hence there can never be the kind of jaw-dropping surprise that one experiences in the best locked-rooms.


John P.

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