The Punch & Judy Murders

IMG_8056by Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) 1936

Murder and Marriage

Sir Henry Merrivale (better known to the public, and to his co-workers of the Military Intelligence Department as ‘H.M.’) had disappeared. Two of his young friends were to be married the following day. Then a telegram arrived: MEET ME IMPERIAL HOTEL TORQUAY IMMEDIATELY EXPRESS LEAVES PADDINGON 3:30 URGENT MERRIVALE.

At once everyone was precipitated into the Punch and Judy murders… Hours later, the prospective bridegroom, now a fugitive from justice, and dressed in an unlawfully appropriated policeman’s uniform, stood at the open door of a small library, confronted with a corpse. He was wondering how he could escape from the house before the bona fide police arrived…

Carter Dickson has won a wide following because his plots are tight and logical, his action fast and full of suspense and the atmosphere of his stories is almost uncomfortably convincing.


This was a fun romp and a very complex puzzle. Ken Blake is summoned by Merrivale on the eve of his marriage to Evelyn. She tells him go, Merrivale assures him he will be back in time for the wedding the next morning. And the craziness ensues! Spies, counterfeit money, burglary, experiments in metamorphosis and murder! Evelyn shows up later, not to be left out of the fun and the chase begins. I guess It would have been better had I read the Merrivale novels in order, but it was still a wonderful read. Lots of interesting characters, disguises, red herrings and love.

“That new evidence consists of two wildly unrelated questions: 1: is L. alive, or isn’t he? 2: How does the presence or absence of L. concern the question of the counterfeit money? Uh-huh. At first glance it seems like tryin’ to find the relation of a cactus-plant to a bucket of herring: but when we relate them two facts together we’re goin’ to have the truth.”   ~Henry Merrivale

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