The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers

The Red Right HandMeet Dr Henry N Riddle Jr, a brain surgeon from New York. He’s going to tell you the story of Inis St Erme, Elinor Darrie – Erme’s fiancée and Corkscrew, the nickname for a mysterious deformed man. A man who attacks the couple after they gave him a lift in their car. A man who murders St Erme and tries to kill Elinor. A man who, for some reason, removes Erme’s right hand. And who has vanished into thin air.

As the law searches for Corkscrew – and Erme’s hand – Riddle is more concerned with answering the many questions posed by the mysterious crime. But as more people begin to die, the reader begins to question if we are hearing the entire story from Dr Riddle…

Again, apologies for the recent delays in posting. A combination of moving house and struggling through a bit of a duffer of a book – not this one, let me make that very clear.

This is one of those classic crime novels that despite everyone claiming that you simply must have read it, I, of course, had never heard of it. I got a nice request from the publisher, 280 Steps, to take a look at it and I’m very glad that I did.

And I’m rather tempted to stop the review there, as anything else that I might say could spoil matters. There are a few tricks being played here, with the narrative bouncing around from past to present and back again, but it’s not at all difficult to follow. The reader might think that they’ve spotted the trick that the writer is playing but I’d recommend sticking with it because you might not be right. I’ll just say, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It is a proper mystery, by the way, despite looking a bit noirish

The narrative style is very impressive, with Riddle’s voice bringing the whole tale to vivid life. It’s a superb piece of work and I’d Highly Recommend that you get your hands on a copy.


    • The only mild issue I had was I thought it signposted a certain idea – which might or might not be misdirection – a little too heavily. But a great read nonetheless.


  1. This is a bizarre, eerie and brilliant novel. Unique. A must reading for mystery fans.
    Though the first 30 or 40 pages are a bit slow, it becomes a page turner after that and definitely unputdownable.
    After the surprise and stunning revelation towards the end, the reader is likely to go back and reread portions to see how it worked out. On rereading, the reader will note that all the clues are there and it is definitely a fair play mystery.
    It is a complex mystery. A factor adding to the complexity is that it is not told linearly in time but jumps back and forth in time. Hence it should be read carefully. It may be necessary to reread it to comprehend it fully and realize its brilliance
    It may be regarded as a locked room/impossible crime mystery.


      • Well, it is included in the list of Locked Room Novel Masterpieces at Locked Room International website of John Pugmire.
        It is also included in the examples of locked room mysteries in Wikipedia.


      • And, talking of locked room mysteries and John Pugmire reminds me that you are yet to review the latest Paul Halter English Translation, The Invisible Circle.


      • The vanishing car is definitely an impossibility (after all, this is not a novel by Paul Cornell !). Another impossibility is that Riddle sees a man on the side road who should not be there. I have detailed the impossibilities in my review at Amazon.


    • I do have an issue with it, Bev, although not one that I can articulate without spoiling things massively. But if it’s read with a less cynical mind than mind, it should be a great read.


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