Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

John Dickson Carr insisted that fair-play clueing is a necessary part of good detective fiction. Each of his books and short stories was constructed as a challenge to the reader, with all clues given to the reader at the same time as the detective. Within this framework, however, Carr was an innovator, combining mystery and detection with true-crime reconstruction, slapstick comedy, historical novels, and fantasy. Carr is best known, however, for his mastery of the locked-room murder and related forms of miracle crimes. In his books, victims are found within hermetically sealed rooms which were—so it seems—impossible for the murderers to enter or leave. Murders are also committed in buildings surrounded by unmarked snow or sand, and people do things such as enter a guarded room or dive into a swimming pool and completely vanish. Thus Carr’s stories are constructed around two puzzles for the detective (and the reader) to solve— whodunit and “howdunit.”