Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paperback 488: The Case of the Constant Suicides / John Dickson Carr (Berkley G-60)

Paperback 488: Berkley Books G-60 (1st ptg, 1957)

Title: The Case of the Constant Suicides
Author: John Dickson Carr
Cover artist: Robert Maguire

Yours for: $11


Best things about this cover:
  • Well, Dr. Gideon Fell, alright. Fell to his death!
  • Nobody painted Paperback Women better than Robert Maguire. Nobody. Nobody. I mean, this is some of his least interesting work, and it's still awesome. He also has the greatest paperback cover artist signature. Regular as hell. You could set your watch by that thing.
  • This is the story of one woman's painful obsession with the phallic tower that would not love her. Or her painful battle with head lice. Or her painful attempt to follow a rudimentary yoga DVD.


Best things about this back cover:
  • How 'bout people just stop staying there. Looks like a shit place to sleep, anyway. Case closed! You're welcome.
  • Coincidentally, I'm in the middle of an Agatha Christie novel right now. It's telling that she doesn't praise his writing, but his ability to baffle. I've heard 4-year-olds tell completely baffling stories.

Page 123~

"Angus might well consider himself, in the hard-headed Northern fashion, a useless encumbrance."

Poor Angus is "stony broke," "overwhelved (sic!) with debts," and has an ex-mistress named Elspat. She used to tease him about his "useless encumbrance." Hence *ex* mistress.


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Lisa in Oz said...

Confession that is tangential to this post: I have only read one Agatha Christie novel (They Came to Baghdad) and I haaaaated it.

Granted, it was one of her spy thrillers instead of a classic mystery, but I was shocked at just how boring, hammy, implausible and repetitive it was. Did I just pick up a dud?

Graham Powell said...

Ha, I have a copy of this edition on my TBR stack. Carr could be very good, but also very, very bad. Avoid THE PLAGUE COURT MURDERS like the... well, you know.

Lisa, after reading a lot of Golden Age mysteries lately, I can say that Agatha Christie was one of the more consistently entertaining writers. Most mysteries of that type are like watching molassas flow down a not-very-steep hill.

Miss Maggie said...

Should have saved this one for Phallic Phriday.

Deb said...

Lisa: Get some true classic Christie: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, CARDS ON THE TABLE, 13 AT DINNER, MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY, etc. Don't judge Christie on the single book you've read, which is one of her lesser efforts.

Rex Parker said...

Since this is turning into a Christie discussion: I have avoided her forever because I do not like preposterous murders. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Chandlerphile and do not generally like "puzzle mysteries" or "cozies." That said, I'm really liking "At Bertram's Hotel"—Christie is a fine, charming writer with a gift for place and character that most contemporary mystery writers can only dream of. She's just a really good writer. Also, she can be funny.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember whether or not if I've read this particular Dr Gideon Fell mystery, I don't think so - However I have read "He Who Whispers" and that features the victim dying at the top of a stone tower. Clearly Carr had a bit of a phobia of tall buildings.

My top tip for reading Agatha Christie is to check the date of publication, personally I think that her mid-period is her strongest work; whilst her later books can be almost unreadable. She seems to have been totally bemused by the youth culture of the seventies for one thing.

Random White Guy said...

•How 'bout people just stop staying there. Looks like a shit place to sleep, anyway. Case closed! You're welcome.

Reminds me of The Greene Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine. A family keeps getting knocked off, one by one, in their rickety mansion. Okay, the first death you feel bad. After the second corpse, why did no one have the sense to get the hell out of there? If you are stupid enough to keep staying in a death house/tower, you deserve to die. I end up cheering the murderer on for getting rid of people too dumb to live.

Jean said...

Best cover ever! I want one. If anyone has an extra, drop me a line.

Pete said...

Assuming you've finished "At Bertram's Hotel" I have to ask, exactly how pissed off were you at the resolution? She may be the Queen of Mysteries, but she's also the queen bitch of keeping the one critical key hidden from the reader until the last minute.

Tom Bennett said...

In response to your claim that nobody painted women in paperback art better than McGuire, I beg to differ. My father, Harry Bennett painted the greatest women in paperbacks. Sure, I'm biased, but Harry could give any of these guys a run.

Rex Parker said...

Your father is, of course, legendary. My praise for the best painter of women in paperback history was not meant as a personal slight. When I praise Bob Gibson, I do not mean insult to Pedro Martinez. And so on.