Till Death Do Us Part by John Dickson Carr Till Death Do Us Part by John Dickson Carr
Series: Dr. Gideon Fell #15
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on August 2, 2022 (first published 1944)
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 272
Format: eBook
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four-stars

First published in 1944, Till Death Do Us Part remains a pacey and deeply satisfying impossible crime story, championed by Carr connoisseurs as one of the very best examples of his mystery writing talents. This edition includes an introduction by CWA Diamond Dagger Award-winning author Martin Edwards.

Crime author Dick Markham is in love again; his fiancee, the mysterious newcomer to the village, Lesley Grant. When Grant accidentally shoots the fortune teller through the side of his tent at the local fair--following a very strange reaction to his predictions--Markham is reluctantly brought into a scheme to expose his betrothed as a suspected serial husband-poisoner.

That night the enigmatic fortune teller--and chief accuser--is found dead in an impossible locked-room setup, casting suspicion onto Grant and striking doubt into the heart of her lover. Lured by the scent of the impossible case, Dr. Gideon Fell arrives from London to examine the perplexing evidence and match wits with a meticulous killer at large.

John Dickson Carr is considered a master of the locked room mystery and Till Death Do Us Part is a good example of that. This is the first Gideon Fell book I think I’ve read, but it worked fine as a standalone.

Dick Markham with his fiancee, Lesley Grant, arrive late to the village fair. Events lead to Lesley accidentally shooting the fortune teller, renowned criminologist Sir Harvey Gilman. Later Markham hears from Gilman the story of Lesley’s life as a serial poisoner. Soon Superintendent Hadley and Dr. Gideon Fell become involved when a murder occurs in the village.

It’s an enjoyable mystery. The characters are the usual odd lot that lives in fictional small towns, with assorted secrets and jealousies. There is plenty of misdirection, lots of red herrings, and several people who aren’t who we think. I did not guess who the killer was or how they managed to pull it off. It’s a quick read, but I think I might have to read a couple more Fell books before I know if I’m a fan.

About John Dickson Carr

John Dickson Carr (November 30, 1906 – February 27, 1977) was an American author of detective stories, who also published using the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.

He lived in England for a number of years, and is often grouped among “British-style” mystery writers. Most of his novels had English settings, especially country villages and estates, and English characters. His two best-known fictional detectives (Dr. Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale) were both English.

Carr is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of so-called “Golden Age” mysteries; complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. He was a master of the so-called locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery The Hollow Man (1935), usually considered Carr’s masterpiece, was selected in 1981 as the best locked-room mystery of all time by a panel of 17 mystery authors and reviewers.

In 1950, his biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle earned Carr the first of his two Special Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America; the second was awarded in 1970, in recognition of his 40-year career as a mystery writer. He was also presented the MWA’s Grand Master award in 1963. Carr was one of only two Americans ever admitted to the British Detection Club.

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