The Revenge of “The House In Goblin Wood”

Yes, it’s back. The strange case of Carter Dickson’s fantastic short story The House In Goblin Wood. Or, more accurately, the fact that I seem to get periodic spikes of interest in that post.

Below is a graph of the visits that the particular post has received. And for some reason, late January 2012 corresponds to a massive leap in interest, which has been repeated today. There are similar corresponding peaks (although not as high) in July, September and October. The pattern repeats on my other post about the review.


So, the Puzzle Doctor has put his hat on – not a deerstalker, more of an Indiana Jones type thing – and this lends weight to my theory that it’s set as part of a crime-reading course. But I am fascinated – where is this course?

If you’re one of the people studying it, do drop me a line. What other stories are on the syllabus? How much depth do you study the story in? Or is there another reason entirely that I’m missing?

Please, enlighten a poor confused blogger…


  1. Yes, Steve…no graph. We’ve got a few instructors here at IU who have done some classes on mysteries, but as far as I know none of them have used this particular Carr/Dickson (or any of Carr’s stories….).


    • The thing is, the story isn’t very easy to find – it’s in a couple of collections, but nothing that I think is in print. I could be mistaken though… and the graph’s fixed. I think.


      • The story is still in print in (I think) The Oxford Book of English Detective Stories, edited by Patricia Craig, but it’s a very pricey collection.


      • Now the question is – given the number of searches for “solution to House in Goblin Wood”, do I put up a new post describing the plot in detail – you know, the plot that involves killer goblins and aliens and anything else someone might fall for. I might get quoted in an essay!


  2. Well, you got me to go back and reread the story for the first time in many years. And what a classic it is – a really fine, textbook case of how to put your clues across in ways that your audience probably won’t notice until it’s too late. And what a brilliant closing line. If it’s being taught in mystery courses, I find that a very encouraging thought!


  3. I hate to be a killjoy here, but this is all due to spam referral, Steve. You’ve been targetted by a hidden spam referral service and that’s why you keep getting hits. The search terms are part of the targetting. This happened to my post on Killer’s Wedge by Ed McBain and three other posts on my blog back in December. That’s why I closed the anonymous commenting on my blog and no longer allow comments after one month. Soon as I did that the high number of daily abated.


    • Not sure it is, actually John. There are a lot of searches for the story title with variations, including phrases like “plot synopsis” “spark notes” and more detailed questions that have directed people my way. These occur periodically and I doubt a bot is that clever. And I have now found a course synopsis from a NY college that lists the story as suggested reading with no hint of where to find it… And it’s run in January


  4. […] This month also saw the debut of the Doc On The Box thread looking at TV mysteries – apart from Midsomer Murders and the wonderful return of Death In Paradise – more to come on that one soon –  I was banging  on about Father Brown a lot – here, here, here and here. And there’s also the mystery of The House In Goblin Wood… […]


  5. I go to a local college and this story is in a book by Deane Mansfield-Kelley and Lois A. Marchino called The Longman Anthology of Detective Fiction. It’s basically a book of short stories based on amatuer detectives. The class i’m in is called The Literature of Crime. We are required to write analysis on 2 different stories. Reading the summary helps me remember the story. Unfortunately, the summary isn’t always easy to find.


    • Thanks for this, Kelly. It’s nice to kniw my theory of this being on a crime writing course was right. What surprises me us hiw anyone who’s read such a mesmerising tale could possibly forget any detail of it!


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