Re: [GAdetection] Re: "Locked Room" mysteries
- No, I was the one who both suggested and disliked 7 Merveilles.
Long live Meyerbeer forever! "Pour cette cause sainte, j'obéirai sans crainte, à mon Dieu, à mon roi!"
--- On Sat, 31/5/08, pugmire1 <pugmire1@...> wrote:
From: pugmire1 <pugmire1@...>
Subject: [GAdetection] Re: "Locked Room" mysteries
Received: Saturday, 31 May, 2008, 12:54 PM
Much depends on the definition of "island". Is it only water that can
create an island? What if the water has turned to ice? Why not
unmarked snow, mud, or sand around the deceased?
Carter Dickson's "The White Priory Murders" (1934) has a body in a
pavilion surrounded by water which has turned to ice and then been
covered by snow. If you allow an expanse of unmarked snow to take the
place of a river or sea, then G.K.Chesterton' s "The Dagger With Wings"
(1926) would qualify as perhaps the earliest island story with a caped
figure found languishing far from any human imprint.
If you allow an expanse of unmarked mud to qualify, then the fifth and
sixth impossible crimes in Paul Halter's "Les Sept Merveilles du Crime
(The Seven Wonders of Crime)" (1997) are of interest. In the former
case the victim is found dead of thirst in a cabin in the middle of a
sea of dried mud with an untouched carafe of water by his side; in the
latter the victim is found stabbed to death under a pergola surrounded
by wet mud from recent rain (although in this case the victim's
footprints were present, so perhaps not a pure `island' puzzle).
Moving on to expanses of unmarked sand, Carter Dickson's "Death by
Invisible Hands" (1958) has a deceased damsel wearing a scarf on an
unmarked beach (one of several iterations of this story). In Halter's
"Le Chemin de la Lumiere (The Path of Light)," (2000) set in Ancient
Crete, the deceased is found in a pavilion surrounded by unmarked sand.
If there absolutely has to be water all the way round, then of course
Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" (1939) is a classic
(although the murderer didn't actually come from the outside). Paul
Halter set his "Le Cercle Invisible (The Invisible Circle)" (1996) on
a peninsula cut off from the mainland by a fallen bridge, creating a
setting very similar to that of Dame Agatha's masterpiece. The first
murder in Halter's "The Seven Wonders of Crime" is, as Xavier says,
set in a lighthouse surrounded by a ferocious sea (I have to say the
friends to whom I have lent the translation are not as disappointed
with the solution as was Xavier).
The most extraordinary island mystery of all, however, must surely
have been set by Halter in his "Le Tigre Borgne (The One-Eyed Tiger)"
(2004), set in India in the British Raj of the 1870's. A prince's life
has been threatened and he is due to die at midnight. He has taken
refuge in a room at the top of his palace set in a crocodile-infested
lake. There is no window in the room except for a viewing aperture
three feet wide and one foot high. His only companion is a pet rat.
The room is accessed from a courtyard guarded by a baby elephant, but
to reach it one must pass through three doors, the first of which is a
massive external door whose bolts are so stiff the strongest man can
neither knock it down nor move the bolts by reaching through the tiny
side window. At the top of the stairs is an ante-chamber, also with a
locked door. Finally, the internal bronze door to the prince's room
has a lock for which only one copy of the key exists, which is always
on the royal person.
A squad of hand-picked royal guards patrols the perimeter of the
palace at a frequency which makes it impossible to climb the sheer
walls of the palace without detection. A larger squad patrols the
banks of the lake. And, just in case all the foregoing is too easy,
there's another tower thirty feet away in the lake, from the top of
which a limited view into the prince's room is possible. A witness
perched there sees a scuffle between two figures, one of which then
vanishes, and the prince's body is found with a knife in its back
shortly thereafter. Every door is, of course, locked on the inside.
Hint: The butler didn't do it. Neither did the tea-wallah.
--- In GAdetection@ yahoogroups. com, "vegetableduck" <cjevans@... > wrote:
> I'm rather intrigued with this idea, expressed in "The Lighthouse"
> review, that an island can be a "locked room." To be technically
> accurate, that means the novel would have to revolve around an island
> where a murdered person is found and it's believed there was no way
> for anyone to have gotten on the island to commit the murder. Has
> there ever been a book like that?
Get the name you always wanted with the new y7mail email address.
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