Sir Henry Merrivale

This should fill out over time, but as I’ve reviewed a number of Carter Dickson’s (aka John Dickson Carr) books featuring the Old Man, I thought I’d add a bibliography/index for them. There’s my Top Five as well, if you want to look and disagree…

An actress is found with her head bashed in inside the Priory in the grounds of a country house. The only problem being, it was surrounded by unbroken snow all night…

A locked and sealed room that kills without leaving a mark. Merrivale investigates crimes in both the past and the present.

Nothing impossible, but a rather bizarre caper for Merrivale and Ken Blake as he races to the altar while trying to solve a series of very odd murders.

A man is followed to a room when, as the door closes, a gunshot is heard. On opening the door, the room is empty except for the dead body of the man… Oh, and a table laid out with ten teacups…

James Answell is found with the body of his prospective father-in-law in a room sealed from the inside. An arrow protudes from the dead man’s chest, with James’s fingerprints on it. Good thing he’s got Sir Henry Merrivale as his defendant in court!

Death by Teleforce! A psychic announces that he will kill someone by telepathy at 8:00pm. Without fail, his prediction comes to pass, despite the psychic having an ironclad alibi and no evidence of foul play. One of Dickson’s cleverest and simplest ideas.

As a liner crosses the Atlantic during wartime, a murderer kindly leaves a bloody fingerprint. But it doesn’t match anyone on board…

Everybody knows you can’t hypnotise someone into committing murder… unless they think it’s a game involving a rubber dagger, not realising that someone has impossibly switched the toy for a deadly substitute…

A genuine classic – Rita and her suitor’s footprints lead straight over the edge of the cliff – with no-one else nearby. But when their bodies are found at the bottom, they’ve been shot from close range…

The curse of the Pharaohs strikes as Lady Helen Loring vanishes into thin air after returning from Egypt carrying a sacred lamp. Can H.M. unpick a riddle from ancient Egypt?

A wife-killer vanished eleven years ago, but a play script has appeared detailing his crimes has appeared. A script that contains details that only the killer knew. As someone goes undercover posing as the murderer, it seems that the real killer has only been biding his time…

A trip to the States and an impossible vanishing from a swimming pool keep the Old Man on his toes – if the police don’t arrest him first.

  •  Night at the Mocking Widow
  •  Behind the Crimson Blind
  •  The Cavalier’s Cup

Short Story

A young girl was once spirited out of her locked house – by fairies, apparently. When it happens again, can Merrivale get to the bottom of her predicament? And is it more serious this time?


A threat comes out of nowhere. A girl is almost gassed to death inside a locked room. The answers lie at the centre of the Hampton Court maze…


  1. My favourite John Dickson Carr book is ‘He who whispers ‘ one of his most sadistic murderers and a fantastic denouement ,terrific , closely followed by ‘ The Problem of the Green Capsule ‘ these are two of his 5 or 6 masterpieces. The others being ‘ She died a Lady ‘ ‘ Crooked Hinge ‘ ‘The Waxworks Murder ‘ and ‘The Hollow Man ‘. Prefer Dr Fell over Merrivale and Bencolin but all his books are worth checking out.


    • Hinge has been debated elsewhere on the blog – to summarize, I don’t agree at all. Not sure many people would include Waxworks either.

      Personally (and there are various top five posts elsewhere) I’d include Til Death Do Us Part and The Judas Window.


  2. Just finished « The plague court murders »

    Merrivale’s first inquiry, and in this one, he is less painful than in certain later novels (it appears only in the second part of the book). The solution of the locked room is debatable but the many twists are amazing and the novel does not have the heavy side of some Carr with their too many digressions and the constant interruptions of the investigation with phone strokes or shocking revelations. The solution of the mystery and the identity of the culprit surprised even if Carr resorts to a “trick” that is found in a lot of other novels. (No spoilers!).
    In short, a good vintage mystery!


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