John Dickson Carr Week 5
The Tuesday Night Club is an informal group of crime fiction fans choosing a new author to write about each month – and we have picked on John Dickson Carr for March. We’ll all be producing pieces about him and his books on Tuesdays: new and occasional writers always welcome to join in – just send one of us the link to your piece. April author: Phoebe Atwood Taylor.
Noah Stewart collected the links again this month:
The week 1 posts are gathered here.
Week 2 posts here
Week 3 posts here
Week 4 posts here
For my last John Dickson Carr entry, I chose to read a book recommended by many trusted fans. And they were so right…
The Emperor’s Snuff Box
In her bedroom Eve Neill heard the noise.
She knew who it was.
Eve was sitting before the mirror of the dressing-table, brushing her heair with slow steady sweeps of the brush/. A hanging lamp above the mirror, the only light in the room, brought out the warmth of her colouring: the fleece of chestnut hair, falling to her shoulders, and the luminousness of the grey eyes. When her head was pulled backward to the sweep of the brush, it showed the roundness of her neck above the defiant set of her shoulders. She was wearing white silk pyjamas and white satin slippers.
More good things: Carr makes Eve Neill an attractive but flawed heroine, and makes her awful dilemma (is she going to let herself seem unfaithful or a murderer?) real and sympathetic.
He makes clear his disdain for any attempt to impose double standards for men and women. I liked Eve’s potential future mother-in-law encouraging her to tell the truth to their (small!) family:
‘I hope we are all broad-minded,’ said Helena. ‘that is, all except Toby and perhaps poor Maurice – a bit.’One of the Carr short stories I read recently, The Silver Curtain, has the same French setting as the book, and he uses almost the same words – ‘the look of a town in a Walt Disney film’ to introduce it. It must have been a place Carr knew well, and I liked the sense of place in the book – the south of France, the flower shop, the two Frenchwomen, sisters, who feature in the plot.
I had already had second thoughts about a previous week’s top 10 of Carr’s books: I decided that the presence of Plague Court Murders must have been a momentary aberration – it is not one of my favourites at all. And now, easy peasy, I can drop it out and add in Emperor’s Snuff Box – which I think actually goes in at number one, outranking previous favourite The Crooked Hinge.
What a great way to end our Tuesday Night Club on John Dickson Carr…
My friend Sergio has an excellent review of the book over at his Tipping My Fedora blog.
The picture is a Russian stamp issued to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of the painter, Zinaida Serebriakova. The painting is called At the Dressing-table (The Self-portrait). As I said the first time I used it on the blog: Why can’t we have cool stamps like this in the UK?