Monday, July 4, 2011
Death in Five Boxes - Carter Dickson
And there are impossible situations in abundance here. Who drugged the guests in Felix Hayes home? How was the poison administered when the cocktail shaker that contained most of the drinks had not a trace of poison in it? How did the murderer escape the building when the rear entrance was locked? What is the meaning of the five boxes sent to a lawyer's office that were then stolen only a day later? There are these and many other puzzles that will baffle even the most astute reader.
I would count this book as one of Top 10 of the Carter Dickson books. I'm surprised not much is written about it. I found it to be a perfect example of what Carr/Dickson did so well. Create an impossible situation, complicate it with lots of odd behavior, throw in numerous red herring bizarreness and deliver a walloping surprise. Yes, I gasped. I was reminded of my stunned reaction to Ellery Queen's The Greek Coffin Mystery. It's a corker for sure.
And just for the heck of it below this paragraph is the cover of the Belmont Tower reissue paperback version of Death in Five Boxes. The illustrations have absolutely NOTHING to do with the story. I'm positive this publisher lifted their artwork from other books and slapped it on their books without regard to the story's content. There is no bearded men with a German Luger. There is no Gothic looking castle. What are those five ghostly figures loating beneath the castle? Are they children? Mannequins? Dead bodies? If you own this copy and have yet to read it rest assured the cover is one huge illustrated non sequitar.