Review – Castle Skull

Posted April 8, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Castle Skull by John Dickson CarrCastle Skull, John Dickson Carr

I don’t know why I persist in subjecting myself to John Dickson Carr. This is the third book of his I’ve tried, I think, and it’s just… not for me. His work feels stilted and contrived, lacking the style of someone like Dorothy L. Sayers or the breeziness of Agatha Christie’s best. His genius detective, all but infallible, all but omniscient, just gets on my nerves. In fairness, almost all of the clues are there, but it’s hard to solve the mystery (though in another sense, it’s obvious) when everybody is so opaque; not even the Watson really feels alive, despite the access to his thoughts you have with him as the narrator.

Just… not for me, and I really need to remember that; I’ve had the same problem with Dickson Carr’s other series detective, and I just… don’t enjoy the contrived nature of his plots.

This is the second book in the British Library Crime Classics line of reissues that featured the sealed book ending: if you could take it back to the place you bought it without cutting it open to read the ending, you got your money back. It’s sort of interesting to think about that kind of gimmick. I wonder how well it worked! I can’t remember which Golden Age book I’ve read did this now… maybe it was John Dickson Carr’s other book, though?

In any case, argh, I should have put this down and given up, but I still had the tiniest bit of curiosity to satisfy.

Rating: 1/5

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