Bob Adey was a huge fan of John Dickson Carr, and I'm delighted to have acquired a couple of his Carr books with inscriptions. One of these, She Died a Lady, was published under the name Carter Dickson in 1943; the copy is a slim war-time edition, which Carr has inscribed to a woman friend with the comment "more dirty work".
This is a Sir Henry Merrivale story, and it's a very good one. I was delighted with the way Carr pulled the wool over my eyes. With his impossible crime stories, I seldom work out the ingenious m.o. of the killer, which is often too technical for my impractical brain to grasp, but I tend to have better luck in figuring out whodunit. This time, I came up with a nice solution which proved to be hopelessly wrong. And as fellow detective fans know, there are few more satisfying reading experiences than being cleverly fooled by a cunning plot twist or two. And there several good twists in this story.
Other than an epilogue, this story is narrated by a village doctor. Sound familiar ? If not, Carr drops a hint by including a character with the same name as someone in Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. But is this a clue or a red herring? Suffice to say that I thought Carr pulled off a neat narrative trick here, and although it's one of which Christie would have been proud, it is original as far as I know.
What we have here is a story of a married woman who falls for a young actor. Is her elderly husband blind to what is going on? When the lovers disappear, and seem to have taken part in a suicide pact, the husband is the obvious suspect. But Carr didn't deal in obvious solutions. I felt that he chose an unwisely small pool of potential murderers, but he outsmarted me. I enjoyed this one a lot, and I bet Bob did too.