Monday, 2 December 2013

The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr

To the murder of Professor Grimaud, and later the equally incredible crime in Cagliostro Street, many fantastic terms could be applied - with reason.

So begins one of the most famous locked door mysteries out there, by one of the most celebrated mystery writers from the Golden Era of Mystery. This opening line is better than most from those times but today this line would struggle to compete in an already crowded market. It is not much more than a preamble, though an interesting one, as it does mention a murder or two. But its function seems to be one more of plugging the novel (it reads like a tagline) rather than starting the story with conflict or an inciting incident. Yet it is one of the better preambles, as a character and a crime do get introduced. There are worse ways to begin, that's for sure.

It feels like it should be written in first person, but instead is in third person, as if the author is telling you the story in your ear. Some like this, especially if they're reading this on a dark and stormy night. I find it annoying. But a couple pages in, thankfully, one barely notices it anymore.

First thing said:

"Frankly, what puzzles me is your attitude towards the whole business."

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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