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The Peacock Feather Murders

Page history last edited by Jon 11 years, 11 months ago

Carr, John Dickson as Carter Dickson - The Peacock Feather Murders (1937) aka The Ten Teacups


Another "impossible" crime for HM to solve.


Young hedonist Vance Keating is shot and killed in the attic room of a vacant house in London. The cause of death, an ancient gun, is lying by the side of the body. Problem is, it definitely isn't a suicide and there are police on hand to confirm that no-one entered or left the murder room. So, how was it done and what is the true significance of the ten teacups arranged in a circle on a table in the room?


All good intriguing stuff one might think but, much as I admire JDC for his ingenuity, there are aspects of his writing (conspicuous in this volume) which I find somewhat wearisome. I can, for example, do without his laboured humour. He never wrote with a light touch and he would have been wise (IMHO of course) to have left the comedy to those with a flair for it. The sequence with Masters being (almost) seduced by the solicitor's wife in the back of a chauffeur driven car is more cringe-making than funny.


I felt also that this was one of those occasions when the Great Man tried just a little too hard to be clever. It is one thing to pose a problem which the reader may or may not solve by the time the detective launches into his denouement. It is another matter altogether to so bombard the reader with extraneous information that the inevitable result is a total mental overload. Yes, I know we like puzzles and I know we expect red herrings but, surely, we are also entitled to expect some degree of pleasure in reading the text. Sadly, what we have here is, at times, about as fascinating as reading a set of interim company accounts. The solution, when it finally arrives, makes sense but is dependent to a large extent on chance.


Not a title to recommend to a prospective Dickson reader.


Alan P.


See also: http://www.classicmysteries.net/2012/05/the-peacock-feather-murders.html

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