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John Dickson Carr Short Stories


j-d-carrJohn Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was an American author of detective stories, often referred to as ‘The King of  The Locked Room Mystery ‘. Carr published under his own name, most notably producing the Dr. Gideon Fell series,  and also under the pen name of Carter Dickson, famous for the Sir Henry Merrivale series.

Carr was one of the greatest writers of the  so-called “Golden Age” of mystery fiction, writing complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. He was clearly influenced by the works of Gaston Leroux, the Father Brown stories of G. K. Chesterton, and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. He was a master of the locked room mystery, in which a detective solves apparently impossible crimes. The Dr. Fell mystery, ‘The Hollow Man’ (1935), is usually considered to be Carr’s masterpiece, and was selected in a 1981 survey of experts, organized by Edward D. Hoch, as the best locked-room mystery of all time.  There can be little doubt that Carr was, and still remains, the single most important author in the Locked Room and Impossible Crime sub-genre!

A resident of England for a number of years, Carr is often grouped among the “British-style” mystery writers. Most (though not all) of his novels had English settings, especially country villages and estates, and English characters, and his  two best-known fictional detectives were both English. Carr was also a pioneer of the historical mystery genre.

(Source: Edited from Wikipedia John Dickson Carr)

Carr wrote 46 novels, under his own name, and another 26 under the pen name  Carter Dickson – plus over 100 short stories, plays, radio plays, and non-fiction, under both names. Due to the number of works written by this prolific author, we have divided his works into five different pages. Other than this page ‘John Dickson Carr: Short Stories’,  there are four additional pages:

Go to John Dickson Carr: Novels
Go to John Dickson Carr: AKA Carter Dickson
Go to John Dickson Carr: Radio Plays & More
Go to John Dickson Carr: Collections

More on John Dickson Carr Wikipedia / Gadetection
More on Dr. Gideon Fell   More on Sir Henry Merrivale


John Dickson Carr Short Stories 


Door DoomAs Drink The Dead (1926)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Von Arnheim
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980) 

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. Anthologized in ‘The Deadly Arts’, Edited by Bill Pronzini & Martha Muller, Arbor House, 1985.

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Note: Carr’s first historical mystery 

An historical mystery, set in the Villa de Corneto, in Venice in the 1920’s  – with flashbacks to the Borgias in 1505. The impossible crime involves death by poisoning from a cup used by others – with no ill effects – immediately afterward.


Door DoomThe Shadow of The Goat (1926)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Henri Bencolin
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. Anthologized in ‘Murderous Schemes’, Edited by Donald Westlake, OUP, 1996.

Book

Note: Two locked room mysteries

A man disappears from a locked and guarded room in Fountain Court, a backwater of Fleet Street, then a man is stabbed inside the locked and guarded Bell House in Sherwood Forest.


Fell FoulplayThe Dim Queen (1926)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Historical Series: Spain 1815
Collection: Fell & Foul Play

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Carr’s second attempt at the historical mystery genre – no locked rooms!

A historical romance, with some mystery elements, set in Saville, Spain in 1851. No locked room or impossible crime element is evident.


Door DoomThe Ends of Justice (1927)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Henri Bencolin
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: The Good Bishop is a bad detective! 

Bishop Wolfe has turned detective and solved an impossible crime – the only problem is that he got the wrong man – now Bencolin must find the real villain!


Door DoomThe Fourth Suspect (1927)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Henri Bencolin
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: An improbable spy story.

Essentially a spy thriller set in 1920’s Paris, with only a rather weak ‘improbable’ crime.


Door DoomThe Murder in Number Four (1928)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Henri Bencolin
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Bencolin’s early days!

Death by shooting in a locked room. A Bencolin story from early 1920s Paris.


Fell FoulplayThe Other Hangman (1936)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Historical: Pennsylvania 1892 / 1893
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Murder by legal hanging?

A condemned man is murdered in his cell just before he is to be hanged. Why would anyone take such an unnecessary risk? One of Carr’s best historical mysteries, set in late 19th century Pennsylvania, with a good impossible crime plot.


Door DoomThe Man Who Was Dead (1935)
Pen Name: Carter Dixon
Detective: None
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: An interesting obituary?

A supernatural mystery where a young man returning from abroad reads his own obituary in a newspaper. Aka: ‘The Visitor’


Door DoomTerror’s Dark Tower (1935)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Sir James Fenwick
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

*****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Murder in a locked tower

Setting is Moat Hall, where Somerset becomes Devon. Death is by stabbing through the eyes in a locked tower room.


Door DoomThe Door to Doom (1935)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: None
Collection: The Door to Doom (1980)

Best Review

***

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Another supernatural mystery!

Setting is ‘The Inn of The Beautiful Prospects’ near Chartres, France


Fell FoulplayThe Wrong Problem (1936)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collection: Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories (1947); The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection (1954); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Best Review
*****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Dr. Fell’s first short story appearance

Set in an English country house near Grayling Dene. The victim is stabbed to death inside a locked room.


third bullet ssThe Third Bullet (1937) /Short Version (1948)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Colonel Marquis
Collection: The Third Bullet and Other Stories (1954); Fell & Foul Play (1991); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Three bullets – no shooter?

Three bullets fired from different guns, but the only person in the room – other than the victim – had no weapon. There is a longer novelette version from 1937 and a shorter version released in 1948.


Merrivale MarchThe Error at Daybreak (1938)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. AKA: The Lion’s Paw.

Book

Note: An impossible stabbing

Takes place at ‘The Lion’s Paw’ in South Wales. A man is stabbed to death while standing alone out on a breakwater surrounded by ocean. He is the apparent victim of a heart attack, but a vacationing March discovers blood and a needle near the body.


Merrivale MarchThe Diamond Pentacle (1939)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: None
Collection: Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: An impossible entry

Broadlawns, an English country house. Someone impossibly gains entrance to a room that has barred windows and a bolted door.


Merrivale MarchThe Crime in Nobody’s Room (1939)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collection: Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Murder in a room that does’t exist!

A man wakes up in a room similar to his and finds a body, but afterwards the room has disappeared. Something strange is going on at Medici Court!


Merrivale MarchDeath in The Dressing Room (1939)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collection: Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Death is a cabaret?

An impossible death in a dressing room at the Oriental Club cabaret. No one could have been able to kill the victim after he finished his performance on stage.


 

crippen_landruHarem-Scarem (1939)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: None
Collection: The Detective in Fiction and Harem-scarem, Crippen & Landru, 1999

Available only in used hardcover editions

Book

Note: Almost a Lost Carr story

A very rare uncollected story, originally published in ‘The Daily Mail’. Narrated by Ives, who is the biggest liar at the Naughts-and-Crosses Club. Republished by Crippen & Landru, in 1999. Not clear if it has any locked room or impossible crime elements.


Merrivale MarchBlind Man’s Hood (1940)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: None
Collection: Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. AKA: To Wake The Dead 

Book

Note: Christmas Eve Locked Room Murder

Rodney and Muriel Hunter arrive far too late on Christmas Eve at the house of Jack Bannister in the lonely countryside of the Weald of Kent. Yet, oddly, they find the door wide open and the house completely deserted – except for a rather odd young woman who has a tale to tell the tardy visitors; a tale about something that happened in that very house sixty years earlier on another strange Christmas Eve! Long a fan favourite – especially around Christmas. Included in several creepy Christmas and Sci-Fi anthologies.


third bullet ssThe Locked Room (1943)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collections: Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories (1947); The Third Bullet & Other Stories (1954)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. Two editions are available ‘The Locked Room’ (1943), and an abridged version, ‘The Locked Door’ (1957)

Book

Note: One of the better Fell short stories

Attempted murder in a locked room in Kensington.


Fell FoulplayThe Proverbial Murder (1943)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collections: Dr. Fell, Detective, & Other Stories (1947); The Third Bullet & Other Stories of Detection (1954); Fell and Foul Play (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. Originally published as ‘The Proverbial Murderer’ 

Book

Note: The Murder of a Nazi Spy

A suspected Nazi spy is murdered  in Lynmouth. The murder is committed with a gun while the victim is locked in a shed all alone.


Merrivale MarchWilliam Wilson’s Racket (1944)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963) Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Available only in used paperback and ebook editions.

Book

Note: Locked Room Nudity?

A man suddenly disappears – leaving all his clothes behind!


Merrivale MarchThe Empty Flat (1945)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963) Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)


Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Scared to death?

Death caused by fright inside an empty Primrose Hill flat! Douglas Chase, a history professor, is bothered by a noisy radio blasting loud music and it seems to be coming from behind the door of an apartment with the name plate “K. G. Mills.” The occupant turns out to be a woman, and his rival for a post at the university. They indulge in a few insults, then team up to find the radio. This scene is remarkably similar to the opening of ‘The Case of the Constant Suicides’, written four years later. 


Merrivale MarchStrictly Diplomatic (1946)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Andrew Dermot
Collections: Dr. Fell, Detective, & Other Stories (1940); The Third Bullet & Other Stories of Detection (1954);The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); Merrivale, March & Murder (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: A Garden Variety Disappearance

A secret service story set in the glamorous spa of Ile St Catherine on the French-Belgian border. A woman mysteriously disappears from inside a closed garden arbour.


Merrivale MarchThe House in Goblin Wood (1947)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Merrivale
Collection: The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection (1954); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: A mysterious disappearance 

A girl disappears from a cottage near Aylesbury that is under close observation.


Fell FoulplayPerson or Things Unknown (1947)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Historical Mystery: Sussex, 1660
Collection: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: Historical locked room from England in 1660.

Death by stabbing in a locked room where no weapon could be found.


Fell FoulplayThe Gentleman from Paris (1950)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Historical Mystery: New York, 1849
Collections: The Third Bullet & Other Stories of Detection (1954); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Best Review

*****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: One of Carr’s best tales!

Deals with the disappearance of a will from a locked and guard room. The detective is M. Perley (AKA: Edgar Allan Poe)


Sherlock ExploitsThe Adventure of The Highgate Miracle (1954)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr, with Adrian Conan Doyle
Detective: Sherlock Holmes
Collection: The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: A Sherlokian Locked Room!

The only Carr Sherlock story recognized by Adey as a true locked room mystery. See full contents of ‘The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes’  below.


Sherlock ExploitsThe Adventure of The Gold Hunter (1954)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr, with Adrian Conan Doyle
Detective: Sherlock Holmes
Collection: The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

Best Review
*****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: Another Sherlockian Impossible Murder!

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson look into the deaths of a squire and a man who apparently died from a supernatural bedside visitation, because the presence of a human murderer seems quite impossible.  Good enough to make ‘Beneath The Stains of Time’ list of best locked room short stories. (see Best Review above)


Sherlock ExploitsThe Adventure of The Sealed Room (1954)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr, with Adrian Conan Doyle
Detective: Sherlock Holmes
Collection: The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

Best Review
*****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: A Third Sherlockian Locked Room!

Did Colonel Warburton go mad? He apparently wounded his wife and then shot himself in his study, which was locked and bolted from the inside, but Holmes builds a good case for the presence of a third party. Another one that is good enough to make ‘Beneath The Stains of Time’ list of best locked room short stories. (see Best Review above)


Merrivale MarchThe Clue of The Red Wig (1954)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Jacqueline Dubois
Collection: The Third Bullet & Other Stories of Detection (1954); Merrivale, March & Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: A very odd murder! 

The strange, but not impossible, murder of a woman in her underclothes – with her other clothes neatly folded nearby.


DC Crime Coast & No Flowers 2Crime on The Coast
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr & Others
Written in parts by six mystery authors
Collection: Crime on the Coast (& No Flowers by Request) by The Detection Club

Best Review

***

Available only in used hardcover and paperback editions. Usually paired with ‘No Flowers by Request’, another Detection Club story, also published alone.

Book 

Note: Six mystery authors wrote parts of this Detection Club story!

Authors include (in order): John Dickson Carr, Valerie White, Laurence Maynell, Joan Fleming, Michael Cronin, and Elizabeth Ferrars – Edited by Dorothy L. Sayers. Carr wrote the first six chapters.


Fell DetectiveA Guest in The House (1956) (Original Title)
Better known as: ‘The Incautious Burglar’
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collection: Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories (1947)(Guest); The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963), Fell & Foul Play (1991) (Burglar)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book (Guest)  Book (Burglar)

Note: Short Fell version of ‘The Gilded man’

Shortened version of ‘The Gilded Man’ – substituting Fell for Merrivale. In Locked Room Murders, Robert Adey notes that this story relates to item #606 – A Graveyard To Let; this is clearly an error as item #605 refers to ‘The Gilded Man’, the very similar Merrivale novel.  In ‘The Incautious Burglar’, Dr. Fell, is investigating the murder of the wealthy Marcus Hunt, who is stabbed in his own house wearing a cat burglar outfit. 


Merrivale MarchThe New Invisible Man (1956)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: An invisible man wearing gloves?

A man witnesses a disembodied glove fire a gun at a man in a brightly lit room in the building across the street. Are  the gloves connected to an invisible man?


The Locked Door (1957)
See: The Locked Room (1943)


Merrivale MarchDetective’s Day Off (1957)
Collected Title: Scotland Yard Christmas
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collection: Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: A Scotland Yard Christmas

The disappearance of a jewel thief and his female accomplice from a crowded but guarded jewelry store!


Fell FoulplayInvisible Hands (1958)
AKA:King Arthur’s Chair / Death by Invisible Hands
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Dr. Fell
Collections: The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Best Review

****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: A locked room mystery on King Arthur’s coast.

The victim lies strangled in the middle of a patch of unmarked sand at the foot of King’s Arthur’s Chair,  a small natural rock formation that sits on a beach. 


Merrivale MarchThe Footprint in The Sky (1958)
AKA: A Clue in The Snow
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: A snow job?

The only snowy footprints going to and coming from the cottage of a woman who has been attacked for her valuables, were obviously made by a young woman who couldn’t really have done the deed. Then there is that one other print on the hedge. Critical opinion is divided between one of Carr’s best and a tired locked room cliche.


Merrivale MarchThe Silver Curtain (1960)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March and Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book  

Note: Always look for the silver lining?

A man is stabbed in the neck while alone in a cul de sac in France, with no one near enough except one witness who couldn’t have possibly done the deed.


Fell FoulplayThe Black Cabinet (1962)
Pen Name: John Dickson Carr
Historical Mystery: Paris 1858
Collections: The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); Fell & Foul Play (1991)

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book 

Note: An attempted assassination is impossibly foiled

A woman attempts to assassinate Louis Napoleon III, only to be foiled by a historical figure from another era.


Merrivale MarchAll in a Maze (1963)
AKA: The Ministry of Miracles
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Merrivale
Collections: The Men Who Explained Miracles (1963); Merrivale, March & Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions. Novelette.

Book

Note: The Ministry of Miracles at work!

An attempted murder by gassing in a locked room is foiled. One of Carr’s best, set in London and at Hampton Court.


Merrivale MarchHot Money (1966)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Colonel March
Collection: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March & Murder (1991)

Best Review
***

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Invisible furniture? Not a great idea?

Stolen loot is hidden in an invisible piece of furniture inside a locked room. Bit of a cheat?


Merrivale MarchNew Murders for Old (1966)
Pen Name: Carter Dickson
Detective: Hargreaves
Collections: The Department of Queer Complaints (1940); Merrivale, March & Murder (1991)

Best Review
****

Available only in used paperback and hardcover editions.

Book

Note: Reading the bad news!

A supernatural detective story, similar to ‘The Man Who Was Dead’. A man on world cruise reads his own obituary!


Sherlock ExploitsThe Exploits of Sherlock Holmes (1954) 
John Dickson Carr & Adrian Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes

 

Best Review

****

Book

Table of Contents:

“The Adventure of the Seven Clocks”
“The Adventure of the Gold Hunter”
“The Adventure of the Wax Gamblers”
“The Adventure of the Highgate Miracle”
“The Adventure of the Black Baronet”
“The Adventure of the Sealed Room”
“The Adventure of Foulkes Rath”
“The Adventure of the Abbas Ruby”
“The Adventure of the Dark Angels”
“The Adventure of the Two Women”
“The Adventure of the Deptford Horror”
“The Adventure of the Red Widow”

Not all these Sherlock Holmes stories are locked room or impossible crime stories. Only the three included in the main list can be definitely counted. This table of contents is included only to provided a complete list of all John Dickson Carr short stories on this page.


John Dickson Carr Bibliography


Locked Room 101: The Masters


The Locked Room Mystery home



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