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John Dickson Carr Biography

(1906–77), The Hollow Man, juge d'instruction, It Walks by Night, Hag's Nook

American detectivenovelist who lived from 1932 to 1948 in England, where the majority of his books are set. His novels, which appeared under his own name and under that of Carter Dickson, are complicated puzzles, often highly ingenious variants of the locked-room mystery: a lecture on this subject is included in The Hollow Man (1935). In their method they can be compared with the stories of S. S. Van Dine and Ellery Queen, but have far more life and energy, while the detection is often leavened by a romantic sub-plot. The detective in Carr's own early stories is the French juge d'instruction Henri Bencolin (It Walks by Night, 1930), but he is soon replaced (Hag's Nook, 1933) by the stout and eccentric lexicographer Dr Gideon Fell, who appears in most of the author's novels and is obviously modelled on G. K. Chesterton. The detective in the novels by Carter Dickson—the first is The Plague Court Murders (1934)—is the equally eccentric Sir Henry Merrivale, who later acquires Churchillian characteristics. Carr also wrote a number of historical romances with a detective element, such as The Devil in Velvet (1951), his most popular book, which is set in the London of Charles II, and the official biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Henry Carey Biography to Chekhov Biography