The Hollow Man (Dr. Gideon Fell, #6)
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The Hollow Man (Dr. Gideon Fell #6)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Professor Charles Grimaud was explaining to some friends the natural causes behind an ancient superstition about men leaving their coffins when a stranger entered and challenged Grimaud's skepticism. The stranger asserted that he had risen from his own coffin and that four walls meant nothing to him. He added, 'My brother can do more... he wants your life and will call on...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 30th 2002 by Orion Publishing Group (first published 1935)
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Jul 19, 2008 Dianna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Poirot fans, mystery readers, and those who love to play Clue!
Recommended to Dianna by: Wikipedia
I picked The Three Coffins (aka Hollow Man) up when, after I started reading the Poirot mysteries, Adam mentioned the term "Locked Room Mysteries". Having not read many classic mysteries before, I was ignorant of the genre. So, what does any internet-savvy person do when they want a superficial introduction to a subject, of course I Wikipedia-ed it (you can burn me later). Anyway, this book was listed as the epitome of the locked-room mystery.

This book is actually a fantastic way to get acquain...more
Nancy Oakes
You know pretty much immediately that this is not going to be your average mystery story. A group of friends who meet regularly to discuss odd & diverse supernatural topics such as ghosts & ghost stories are interrupted by a strange man by the name of Pierre Fley who addresses himself to one of the group, a Dr. Charles Grimaud. The stranger discusses a story about three coffins and then tells Grimaud that either Fley or his brother would be calling upon him soon. It is not long afterward...more
If you like traditional whodunnits, you may well love this book. In my case, The Three Coffins served to remind me why I quit reading traditional whodunnits.

The best part of the book is its famous twenty-seventh chapter, "The Locked-Room Lecture." This disquisition could be read with enjoyment apart from the rest of the novel. (Indeed, this is what I wish I had done myself.) Here, John Dickson Carr's detective-hero, Dr. Gideon Fell, gives an entertaining history and theory of locked-room mysteri...more
Very interesting tale, it was interesting the way the story was integrated with the atmosphere of magic and illusions. I also liked very much Dr Gideon Fell and the fact that contrary to detectives of this era he is not infallible and he confesses it. I also liked the lecture about the locked room mysteries even though it contained spoilers. Fortunatelly I have already read the yellow room by Leroux that is considered the best one.
Short and stimulating. The meta fiction part about the locked room discussion is brilliant. There is no such thing as 'improbable', indeed.
Absofreakinlutely brilliant. Seriously marvelous. The unravelling part literally had me on the edge of my seat as if I'd been watching the last chapter of a nerve wracking thriller slowly unfold. What makes this book especially brilliant is you get told directly from the get go that there won't be any silly gimmicks, that specific characters who claim to be telling the truth are indeed telling the truth so no need to bother second guessing them, you just read along and get fascinated. Figures it...more
Craig Herbertson
First Carr novel and already addicted.

Professor Charles Grimaud and his circle meet at a tavern. They are interrupted by a mysterious stranger who says that men can rise from their graves. The stranger, an illusionist called Pierre Fley, claims to have this rather natty ability, and couples this with the news that he has an even more dangerous brother who wants to kill Grimaud. He tells Grimaud to choose which of the two brothers he wants to pop round (him or the naughtier one), and Grimaud tel...more
Li'l Vishnu
“But she’s not guilty. That’s been proved. Besides I like her.” — Dorothy, p. 187

I think my enjoyment of this book suffered because, during a long monologue, the principal sleuth reveals the endings to numerous other mystery novels — among which is The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux. This was supposed to be my very next read. Ah, well. Now I’ve read both.

This guy is a plot guy. The characters weren’t bad or anything. The three brothers were particularly interesting—I really liked ho...more
Harrumph! "The Hollow Man" is a locked room crime mystery which at times feels quite dated in terms of the...Harrumph!..prose style, but other than that is sufficiently intriging and well plotted to keep this reader's attention. Without giving too much away, a murder is committed in a locked room and shortly afterwards another murder is committed on an empty street, with no indication of how these could have occured. I always get the feeling with these plots that the reader is left to unravel a...more
Janne Varvára
Staying up past your bedtime because you simply *have* to know... Most likely you're reading John Dickson Carr.

A murder is committed by a man in a mask, who leaves no footprints in the newly fallen snow outside, and who, after having done the deed, disappears into thin air in a locked room.

Just writing that sends a shiver up my spine.

I can remember hearing a radio theater version of this when I was a kid. I couldn't remember any details, just that it really creeped me out. And it still does.

Tim Foley
I saw this book (UK: The Hollow Man) had been voted Number One Locked Room Mystery by a panel of experts back in the 80s. Locked Room Mysteries were a genre of crime that had started to intrigue me, so I gave it a whirl.

I'm glad I did. The book made me a John Dickson Carr convert. I love the gothic backstory of the three coffins, it really helps embed the crime in a more believable, if still fantastic, world. It was my first encounter with Dr Gideon Fell. I'm a big fan. He's a rather generic de...more
Carr, John Dickson. THE THREE COFFINS. (1935). ***. Enter, again, the brilliant Dr. Gideon Fell, master criminologist and the world’s maven of the locked room mystery. This time he is after one of the most clever sleuths of his career. The police called him the “invisible murderer” He killed his first victim and literally disappeared – from a locked room, of course. He killed his second victim in the middle of an empty street, but with watchers at either end – yet not a soul saw him commit the c...more
Rachael Stein
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
--Thomas Brown

Sam gave this to me as an example of the kind of mystery he likes. I posit that this is not so much a mystery as a 200 page word problem: if a dude wearing a yellow overcoat leaves Cagliostro street at 9:00, and his fairly unpleasant daughter leaves the drawing room at 9:15, etc.

There are also a couple of cheerful endorsements of punching women in the f...more
The Crime Scene Scene
The Three Coffins/The Hollow Man is the sixth novel in the Gideon Fell series by John Dickson Carr. Pierre Grimaud receives a visitor in his study who is seen by witnesses. A few minutes later gunshots are also heard and after members of the household breakdown the door they find Pierre dying and both the visitor and the weapon missing. Dr Fell soon discovers that the murder links to the past of the man who is not quite what he seems.

This novel is considered one of the best locked room mysteries...more
Dr. Fell solves two impossible murders. I read this because Wikipedia told me it was the classic locked-room mystery... and I have officially learned not to use Wikipedia for book suggestions. To give credit where it's due, the actual solving of the mystery is impressive, if not interesting. The rest of it was crazy boring. I mainly read the dialogue in a book, and this book had a lot of dialogue, but it was all just description encased in quotes, to signify that the characters are terrifically...more
Sacramento Public Library
I'm thrilled to have discovered a new classic mystery author to explore. Carr's writing style calls to mind other authors of the early 20th century and is a good fit for fans of Agatha Christie and similar writers. While Carr's characters are arguably not as vivid as Christie or Rex Stout, his locked room mysteries are legendary, and this is a great one. Like the best stories, it hints at many contradictory possibilities, and gives the reader room to develop theories, and then is still a surpris...more
Jacob / Julie
When I was young, I was in a bookstore and I picked up a book of top-10 lists, I and started browsing. And one of the lists was either "best detective stories" or "best sealed-room mystery stories" and this book (by Carr) was on the list. So I bought the detective book :) And I remember enjoying it. I also remember that there is a point in the story where the detective gives an entire speech listing all the possible ways that a sealed-room murder can happen. (That's where you find a dead body, b...more
I'm thrilled to have discovered a new classic mystery author to explore. Carr's writing style calls to mind other authors of the early 20th century and is a good fit for fans of Agatha Christie and similar writers. While Carr's characters are arguably not as vivid as Christie or Rex Stout, his locked room mysteries are legendary, and this is a great one. Like the best stories, it hints at many contradictory possibilities, and gives the reader room to develop theories, and then is still a surpris...more
Frank O'connor
This is a book about the locked room mystery - a genre that it itself apparently began. It forms a kind of clever meta-narrative, with the fictional detective giving a disquisition on locked-room mysteries while attempting to solve the book's own. Plot is everything here, and character takes second place, but with a plotting like this, it doesn't matter. The story is both a highly specific logical puzzle and an acute insight into human psychology. Carr's works are clearly an influence on the BBC...more
After a strong recommendation from a fellow avid reader, I decided this would be a good choice to kick off my summer holidays (which usually consist mainly of reading and working). This turned out to be a splendid idea. This has to be, hands down, one of the most phenomenal mysteries I've read in my entire lifetime. I do not exaggerate. I only hope that the rest of my summer reading can stand up. Strong characters, overall writing, and a mastery of intrigue all contribute to this novel. I also i...more
Ayase Yayoi
i have once dreamed of the trick, really..._(:з」∠)_
Rog Harrison
The edition I read was actually called "The hollow man". This is the second time I have read this. I read several of the author's books thirty or so years ago so when I saw this in the library I thought I would give it another go. It was originally published in 1935 and is a classic locked room mystery. It is meant to be a puzzle and the characters of Fell, Hadley and Rampole are pretty much non-existent. They are just there for the sake of the story. It's an entertaining read though.
Practically perfect in every way.
Pietro De Palma
The most famous novel by Carr, but certainly not the best, not because it is not very good but because there are others just as very good.
However it is the most famous novel also because there is the "Locked Room Lecture", a scholarly lecture by Fell about all the systems to display (the one which it is not) a room locked from the inside, with all variants possible and imaginable. In addition within the novel there is a gothic feel very strong, with coffins, vampires, etc. .. and two truly inexp...more
A classic locked-door mystery which only rates 3-stars but has a brilliant section where the main detective explains the various secrets & solutions to locked-door mysteries.

As an Agatha Christie disciple, I suspected the killer's identity early, but changed my mind after "facts" came up. It's safe to say, I'd rate this mystery higher, but I believe the solution required a bit of a cheat by the author.

Still it is a must-read for any locked-door mystery fans.
Jigar Brahmbhatt
No one has done more than John Dickson Carr to improve and constantly refine the Looked Room Mysteries. 'The Three Coffins' (aka The Hollow Man) is the best I have ever read. But I have yet to read... or rather track down 'The Crooked Hinge'. A little confusing because of the large cast of characters, this book is well-worth for the looked-room lecture in chapter 17 where Carr famously summarizes the best in the genera. Pity that this brilliant puzzle-maker is out of print!
This was recommended to me as the ultimate in locked door mysteries. I would agree that it was impossible to figure out the solution, and I loved the Victorian British feel, but the writing did not have the panache of Conan Doyle and I almost felt like I was working out a logic problem in school, as opposed to losing myself in a baffling British mystery. That said, I did enjoy myself and I will read others by Dickson Carr when I need that gloomy British fix.
Although this is considered one of the best locked room mysteries, it wasn't that interesting. Not very much happened after the initial crimes; you had to wait for Dr. Gideon Fell to figure out what happened. It had a very slow pace. The ending, while unexpected, was a little too fantastic to be realistic. I had to skip a page or two in chapter 27 because Dr. Fell kept referencing the solutions of other famous mysteries that I want to read later. 2.5 stars.
This is one of the best ever 'locked-room' or 'unexplainable murders' book I ever read. The writing was kind of aged and feels old. But at the same time the story is fascinating from the beginning and I was trying to come up with a solution how the crimes would have happened; and I failed.

What impressed me and blew me over were how convincing the final explanations were. It is actually possible to have that crimes happened in this particular way. Fantastic.
Set in London, this is a very convoluted mystery which gets a little tedious at times. It involves two murders: one in a locked room with just the victim and no sign of anyone else and the other a man is shot in front of three witnesses and none see who shot him. Added to this is the mysterious background of the murdered men. All is unravelled by Dr. Fell who reasons everything out based upon various clues.
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The best "locked room" mystery? 10 39 Jul 12, 2013 08:24AM  
  • The Poisoned Chocolates Case
  • The Beast Must Die (Nigel Strangeways, #4)
  • Malice Aforethought
  • Trent's Last Case
  • The Madman of Bergerac
  • Death at the President's Lodging (Sir John Appleby, #1)
  • The Four Just Men  (The Four Just Men #1)
  • The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)
  • Poetic Justice (A Kate Fansler Mystery #3)
  • The Greek Coffin Mystery
  • A Rich Full Death
  • Beast In View
  • The League of Frightened Men (Nero Wolfe, #2)
  • Green for Danger
  • The Great Impersonation
  • No Orchids For Miss Blandish
  • Fatal Inversion
AKA Carter Dickson.
John Dickson Carr was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1906. It Walks by Night, his first published detective novel, featuring the Frenchman Henri Bencolin, was published in 1930. Apart from Dr Fell, whose first appearance was in Hag's Nook in 1933, Carr's other series detectives (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) were the barrister Sir Henry Merrivale, who...more
More about John Dickson Carr...
Hag's Nook (Dr. Gideon Fell, #1) The Burning Court The Crooked Hinge (Dr. Gideon Fell, #8) He Who Whispers (Dr. Gideon Fell, #16) The Mad Hatter Mystery (Dr. Gideon Fell, #2)

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“I am a mathematician, sir. I never permit myself to think.” 4 likes
“I have committed another crime, Hadley,' he said. 'I have guessed the truth again.” 2 likes
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