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The House at Satan's Elbow (Dr. Gideon Fell #21)

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  83 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Pennington Barclay, master of Greengrove, is murderously attacked in his library by something that exits from a completely locked room. The entire household - including Pennington's beautiful young wife, and his nephew, who is the heir to Greengorove by virtue of a newly discovered will - is in an uproar. Estelle Barclay, Pennington's spinsterish and psychically inclined s ...more
Paperback, 0 pages
Published March 28th 1980 by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated (first published 1965)
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Ian Wood
This is an abbreviated version of the review on my blog. Note that the blog version contains several links which aren't available here.


The house at Satan's Elbow is a detective mystery novel published in 1965 - although it feels like it's taking place a couple of decades earlier! Satan's Elbow is a fictional creation. It's where Greengrove sits: the home of Pennington Barclay.

The novel begins with Nick Barclay inviting his old friend Garret Anderson down to Greengrove. There's a big fus
Nancy Butts
Oct 10, 2016 Nancy Butts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
#21 in Gideon Fell series and I am pleased to report that Carr seems to have returned to his "original" approach with this book: this is more like the Fell books I fell in love with, set in a rambling house in the English countryside, with hints of ghosts, and a cast of eccentric gentry who are all at each other's throats. Perfect! Although I have to say that I dislike Carr's female characters, all of whom are neurotic and mercurial. Didn't he know any stalwart women? :D
THE HOUSE AT SATAN’S ELBOW. (1965). John Dickson Carr. ***.
This is a Gideon Fell locked-room mystery – his specialty. Many of the novels in this series, however, really stretch events to make sure everything comes out in the end. In the current novel, we meet up with a mister Pennington, the owner and occupant of Greengrove, a manor on the spit of land known as Satan’s Elbow. At least he thinks he’s the owner – until a new will of his father’s is found that changes things and leaves everything t
My first John Dickson Carr novel—a Christmas gift bought for the express purpose of being fitting reading for a few days in a country cabin, which it very much was. Loads of melodrama (gasping, running toward one's lover just to touch hands before turning and running back in the other direction, be-veiled ghosts, passionate embraces, needlessly complicated back story...), and lots of exposition and character explanation delivered through feverish dialog. Take for example, the introduction that t ...more
Jack Chapman
Sep 24, 2013 Jack Chapman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Dickson Carr was probably the greatest of the Golden Age locked room mystery writers but this is a late work (he wrote only two more Gideon Fell novels after 1965) and the classic mechanisms of the genre are starting to creak in the age of The Beatles and the miniskirt. Carr makes some attempt to reflect the age - the stock characters of the young romantic leads, who in earlier books behave very chastely, here are implied to have had a rather physical relationship during a holiday in Paris! But ...more
Janne Varvára
Oct 01, 2014 Janne Varvára rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Like other John Dickson Carr novels, this one has a great premise: Nick Barclay, accompanied by his friend Garrett, returns to the old family home to settle the matter of a deceased grandfather's two wills. Over the scene hangs the tale of an elusive ghostly figure who is said to be a former inhabitant of the house; an evil judge who always wore a robe and face-veil.

The story seems a bit more sluggish than usual, however. About halfway, you realize that the story has only covered a single evenin
Jan 04, 2012 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book by Carr, whose work I have not read, was decent. I was kept in the dark as to whom the villain was until the end. I didn't care for the mushiness of the romance, especially on the part of the male character but that was typical of the times, I'm guessing. It did seem somewhat over the top. The mystery itself was good, the characters interestingly written, and the setting appropriate.
Robert Henderson
It was OK, and the locked room mystery quite plausable, but a fairly pedestrian written story. Certainly not one of his best.
Aug 23, 2009 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written near the end of his career, not one of Carr's best or most compelling efforts, though still a decent read.
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AKA Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn.

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 b
More about John Dickson Carr...

Other Books in the Series

Dr. Gideon Fell (1 - 10 of 23 books)
  • Hag's Nook (Dr. Gideon Fell, #1)
  • The Mad Hatter Mystery (Dr. Gideon Fell, #2)
  • The Eight of Swords (Dr. Gideon Fell, #3)
  • The Blind Barber (Dr. Gideon Fell, #4)
  • Death-Watch (Dr. Gideon Fell, #5)
  • The Three Coffins (Dr. Gideon Fell, #6)
  • The Arabian Nights Murder (Dr. Gideon Fell, #7)
  • The Crooked Hinge (Dr. Gideon Fell, #8)
  • To Wake the Dead (Dr. Gideon Fell, #9)
  • The Problem of the Green Capsule (Dr. Gideon Fell, #10)

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