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The Burning Court

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  518 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
When the family found an odd piece of string, tied at equal intervals into nine knots, under Miles Despard's pillow, they dismissed this trifle from their minds.

But then the housekeeper, a normally sensible woman, told an incredible story of a beautiful woman in the old man's room - a woman who had "walked through the wall". Who could go through a door which had been brick
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1985 by International Polygonics (first published 1937)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Simona Bartolotta
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, in-english, ebooks, 1900
I loved the mystery, but, sadly, the writing ruined it for me. To me, Carr's writing (having read none of his other works, I don't know whether this problem is peculiar to The Burning Court or, more generally, to Carr's style) proved unable to make each character's individuality stand out, resulting in confusion, boredom, and complete lack of interest on my part. I confess I skipped many parts and read with true attention only the last pages, obviously dedicated to the solution to the case—and w ...more
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read very few mysteries. I can count the ones I have read on one and a half hands. I shall reserve the fourth half-hand for science fiction.
John Dickson Carr was an American mystery writer in the mid-20th-century. THE BURNING COURT is methodical, solid and educational. It is not scandalous, giddy or brutal. I imagine Carr's audience, which was sizeable, was made up of doctors, lawyers and professors. ("Members of the U.M.C.," as Bob Segar might sing.) I don't think such an audience exists toda
Michael Mallory
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book has been ranked as one of the 100 top mysteries ever written. I can understand that. A very interesting book about a man who marries a young woman and begins to think she's the incarnation of woman who was burned as a witch in the 17th century. This after some strange goings on at his home. There are two impossible crimes: one in which someone sees the murderer walk through the wall, another where the body is stolen out of a masoleum just after everyone walks out.

The ending is wonderfu
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is John Dickson Carr at his puzzling, ingenious, and atmospheric best, with a sensational, stunning ending. The set-up sounds like a standard "golden age" mystery plot: a wealthy man is murdered, apparently by poison in a locked room. Subsequently his body disappears from a seemingly impregnable family crypt. The author, the master of the locked-room mystery genre, surprises us, however, with different characters (his familiar series detectives do not appear), a different setting (rural Pen ...more
Widely considered to be the best non-series novel Carr ever wrote, this is a curious mixture of horror and intrigue. The scenario is a tantalizing one, having to do with the disappearance of a body from a sealed crypt, but the real hook for many readers (including yours truly) is the suggestion of the diabolical. This turns out to be both a blessing and a bane. On the one hand, Carr keeps a tight lid on the sensational plot, withholding full disclosure until the last possible moment, demonstrati ...more
Ben Loory
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
found this on the karl edward wagner 3x13 list:

it's basically a 3-star locked room / impossible crime-type mystery until the epilogue, which explodes the whole thing into something much better. something which will maybe live forever? or not. a long time, anyway. forever is tough.

but it's nice to see someone really nail an ending.
Дали заради високите очаквания или прякото сравнение с Агата Кристи, тази книга изобщо не ми хареса. До един момент имаше заплитане на интрига и загадка за разкриване, включиха се мистични и магьоснически мотиви, които обещаваха интересна развръзка. Но уви, в следващия момент развръзката беше поднесена набързо, доста скалъпено и неубедително. Нямаше нищо изненадващо, а по-скоро зле нагласени събития, които уж да доведат до кулуминацията. И макар да бях не особено впечатлена от книгата, то бих и ...more
Pietro De Palma
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The other book Todorov said was
The other book along with "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" by Agatha Christie Todorov said to be the only example of fantastic literature in the literature of the detective genre. Not surprisingly,"The Bourning Court" is truly a masterpiece, one of the greatest of Carr and of every time.
It's a historical mystery, with a Locked Room, a case of reincarnation, and a setting learned in the times of King Louis XIV.
The novel basically talks about the affair of the poisons
Graham Powell
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book surprised me from the first page, when I discovered that - unlike almost all of Carr's other works - it's set in America and features only Americans. I'm not going to say much about the plot, but the twin impossible crimes featured here are lucidly explained at the end.

I found the writing in this one to be the best of all Carr's books. The tone in the others sometimes seems forced to me, with Carr reaching a bit too far to suggest menace or humor, but there are no wrong notes here. I'm
Isadora Wagner
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
An impossible puzzler with a distinctly Daphne du Maurier-esque ending, which is why I picked up the book, having read about it in The Fantastic (Todorov). Carr is a vivid and deft writer; one of the more curious and interesting aspects of his work was seeing the conventions of the British mystery plot (and personages, motifs, right down to use of clothes and stations/relations, town and house as shorthand) portaged over to the U.S. The Burning Court is set in the 1970s somewhere outside New Yor ...more
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Almost gave this a 5. This is the first I've read by Carr, a prolific 1930's 'Golden Age' mystery writer, and I really enjoyed the detailed, intricate plotting (which I understand is his trademark). An impossible crime setup with great atmosphere and macabre coincidences. Toss the word 'supernatural' into the description and it becomes a little clearer why this was considered controversial when it was first released. Subverted expectations excellently executed (alliteration FTW).
Aman Kalia
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome
After reading Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith , i was in search of an author who was as good. And i found one in Great John Dickson Carr aka Carter Dickson.

Awesome story, gripping, unputdownable & last 3 pages sent a chill through my bones.

One of the best i have read till date.
Nancy Butts
May 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This book engrossed but puzzled me; it couldn’t seem to decide what it wanted to be, a mystery or horror novel. And rather than blend the two genres, it seemed to jump back and forth between them. This would make more sense if I could be more specific, but if I did that, I would create some howling spoilers, so I will refrain.
Lynn Joshua
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is very well written; unfortunately, he does try to give a supernatural explanation for some mysterious occurrences. It will give you goose-bumps when you are hit with the strange "coincidences" and eerie atmosphere - especially the opening of the crypt in the middle of the night. The ending is completely satisfying.
John Dickson Carr is a master at creating believable solutions so seemingly impossible crimes that seem to have supernatural causes. One of the things that makes his locked room mysteries page-turners is the frightening atmosphere he creates -- in Burning Court there's witchcraft, a crypt, and a woman who's alive but who was supposedly put to death in the previous century.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Perhaps the spookiest of Carr's mysteries; highly recommended if you enjoy mysteries with gothic overtones. The usual warning applies, however: Carr's attitudes concerning women and what he would probably have described as the lower classes is quite dated, so you will probably want to skip this if those attitudes make you crazy.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Mystery filled with supernatural and witchcraft references and a ton of red herrings with some historical references thrown in. The first about 90% of the story is filled with information and explanations as to what happened and then things are made clear with the final explanation.
J.V. Seem
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
Sort messe, or "The Burning Court" is a novel (and radio play) I've gone through many times through the years, but I never seem to tire of it. Part murder mystery, part ghostly thriller, it's my favorite John Dickson Carr.
Jul 26, 2013 added it
Excellent.. was this written so early in the century. Ending blew me away
Jeffrey Marks
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book. Enjoyed it very much with the twist at the end.
Jon McDonald
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a good tale for someone that enjoys clever writing. The ending is either a big disappointment or really awesome.
Daniel Gonçalves
Oct 01, 2014 rated it liked it
An enjoyable book, old but timeless. This one is considered one of the best mystery novels of all time, and it surely deserves that label. If you're a fan of the genre, this one is a must read.
Joyce McKune
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Except for some words that don't exist in todays vocabulary, this was a great mystery. Didn't know they talked about paranormal back in 1937 when this was written.
Ана Хелс
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Мистерията на затворената стая е онзи поджанр на криминалетата, който вдъхновява най-силно малките сиви клетчици да поработят малко извънредно извън обичайните им задължения около поддържането на що-годе нормален живот. Особено ако в историята се намеси един тих повей на неестествени сили, търсещи слабите звена на реалността, за да се набъркат в делата човешки и донесат достатъчно хаос, за да преобърнат фатално не един живот. Какво ще кажете за древни вещици – отровителки, котешки амулет на Баст ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I am dissatisfied with something about the book. I'm trying to put my finger on it, but having some difficulty. By the middle of the story, I would have rated it a 4; however, I felt uneasy towards the end and once I finished the book. Perhaps it was the mood, perhaps it was the incomplete impression or anti-climactic finale. As a locked-room mystery, I was initially eager to access this book; with all the hype surrounding this celebrated author, I should have been wow-ed; however, I was not.

Ricordo poco di La corte delle streghe, tra l'altro uno dei titoli più noti del maestro del giallo della camera chiusa, John Dickson Carr. Le uniche cose che mi ritornano vagamente alla mente sono una trama fiacca e nebulosa e un risvolto sovrannaturale che non è stato in grado di rapirmi e di creare quell'atmosfera fascinosa che tanto ho amato in altri romanzi dello scrittore e che qui speravo di ritrovare. Anzi, credo che sia proprio questo l'elemento mancante del romanzo, nonostante il ricors ...more
Martina Sartor
Giallo dall'atmosfera raffinata, ma anche soprannaturale e macabra che fa tanto 'victorian style'... Interessante la 'doppia' camera chiusa. Peccato che mi son letta i capitoli finali ieri sera, con un sonno micidiale, e non ci ho capito niente. Stamattina li ho ripresi e mi son chiarita un po' le idee. Solo che, dall'Isola della paura in poi, i finali doppi, in sospeso, ecc... mi stan diventando 'indigesti'. Ne trovo da tutte le parti...
Astrid Terese
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Først løses den vanlige detektivfortellingen, hvor alt spriker og enhver løsning er umulig. Deretter får du en logisk forklaring for så i epilogen å vri det hele rundt en gang til. En genial bok med en spennende historie.
Christine Cody
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Many have referred to this as Carr's "masterpiece." It has been called the "the best horror novel of the 20th century."

I can add nothing to these words of praise, except, "Wow!" A surprise on every page, perfect in every way, and mystifying. Whew!
Simon Zhang
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
God-like book
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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
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