The Hollow Man (Dr. Gideon Fell #6) by John Dickson Carr


I requested this book long before I was recommended quite a few of the Golden Age fiction books. I picked this solely because I had seen the author in my reading of The Detection Club 1 & 2 by Jean Harambat. I have also read quite a lot of reviews of his books. I chose this particular title only due to the ease of convenience of actually getting a copy. The libraries are once again closed so I will have to wait a long time for the rest of the old mystery books from my list.

I do not know if it was the fact I am not used to using so much of my brainpower while reading a book or if the current social climate impacted my reading, but it took me forever to work my way through the book. I enjoyed every minute of it, despite which the reading time was extended so this continues to be a study in contradictions. I have no previous acquaintance with the characters introduced in this book, and that took a while to get used to. The central trio of people are comfortable with each other’s eccentricities, and the reader has to learn on the fly. Dr Fell is a very odd hero, he wheezed with every breath and maintains an effort to not sound pompous and apologizes if he muddles things up by thinking ahead a little too much. This is an odd case. We hear of a strange encounter in a club where our primary victim was relaxing with a close-knit group of friends. This bizarre encounter is relayed to Dr Fell just in time or things to turn decidedly odd. The dying man whispers a set of sentences that are later to be pieced together by the investigators.

There are three parallel investigations that they conduct based on their reach, one as part of the police, one as an interested bystander and of course Dr Fell as the deciding factor. The people were hysterical in a way that I have not encountered before, they continuously walk back their statements, and that had me thinking if all authors should have realized the lack of stability that a household with a murder in it should undoubtedly have. The explanations were a whole other game. It is not for the passingly curious, every step is almost numbered and listed. There are even drawings (I now understand the references to the author’s ‘plans’ in the comic series) which are used to give the complete picture as to the process in which the locked room murder was carried out. It was a satisfying conclusion, albeit mildly abrupt. There was no sentimental lingering to wrap up the personal lives which we only get to see the tangles of during the investigation.

Overall, I look forward to reading other books by the author to see if the others are equally, if not more interesting.

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26 thoughts on “The Hollow Man (Dr. Gideon Fell #6) by John Dickson Carr”

  1. This one has quite a complex puzzle plot, plus it is slightly darker than others (none of the Carr humor). I have Castle Skull also. Look forward to seeing what you all make of it b

    Liked by 1 person

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