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Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr

Castle Skull (1931)

by John Dickson Carr

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Henri Bencolin (2)

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1211140,817 (3.14)5



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On the whole, I like Carr's early Bencolin series about a French policeman --they have a strong horror-fantasy atmosphere, but the crimes are rationally explained. This one has a wonderfully dramatic setting --a skull-shaped castle --and a vivid crime scene --a burning man plunging from the castle into the river. I must admit the final explanation is far-fetched even for Carr, which is why I rated this 4 rather than 5. ( )
  antiquary | Aug 31, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Dickson Carrprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grimaldi, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Maleger is a stage magician whose feats of magic are so mysterious and hideous, and his stage presence so evil, that his act frightens unwary children and many adults. In 1912, he purchases the famous Schloss Schadel - Castle Skull, on the banks of the Rhine, and transforms the ruin into a nightmare that is appropriate for its terrifying history (including scenes of torture, insanity and suicide).

Twenty years later, one of Maleger's few friends is seen running about the battlements of Castle Skull - he has been shot three times in the chest, but was still alive when the murderer poured kerosene on him and ignited it. Maleger was traveling alone on the train to his castle; several days later, his body was fished out of the Rhine. Maleger's friend Jérôme D'Aunay, a Belgian financier, hires Parisian detective Henri Bencolin and his associate Jeff Marle to investigate these deaths and the strange goings-on at a house party staying at a villa across the river from Castle Skull.
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