John's Reviews > The Problem of the Wire Cage

The Problem of the Wire Cage by John Dickson Carr
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Jul 09, 2017

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An enjoyable read but one that's far from Carr's best; also, there's not as much Gideon Fell in it as you might expect.

An objectionable young man is found strangled in the middle of a storm-soaked outdoor tennis court, the only footsteps in the clay being his own. The tennis court is in effect a locked-room setting for an impossible murder, and Hadley of the Yard knows just who to call in such circumstances.

Fell solves the case, of course. However, I found myself a bit dissatisfied by the "howdunnit" aspect of the crime: the murder technique is of such byzantine complexity as to be beyond all credibility. To be honest, I spent much of the book thinking that this might be one where Carr was using our expectations of him to fool us, with the killer being not someone startling but the obvious suspect, unsuspected by the reader solely because of the character's place in the novel's structure. I also worked out a quite different and (I'd suggest) far more plausible murder technique. (My guess from textual evidence is that Carr dickered with it but then decided on the fancier explanation.)

By the standards of most other Golden Age mystery writers, this novel is pretty damn' fine. By Carr's own standards, however, it's a bit average. But even a middle-tier Carr tale offers a rattling good read.
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July 9, 2017 – Shelved
July 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

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