Reviewed by RICHARD & KAREN LA PORTE:    

JOHN DICKSON CARR Bride of Newgate

JOHN DICKSON CARR – The Bride of Newgate. Harper & Brothers, hardcover, 1950. Paperback reprints include: Avon 476, 1952; Avon T-391, 1960; Curtis, 1971; Carroll & Graf, 1986.

    Dick Darwent is to be hanged in front of Newgate Prison at dawn tomorrow for a murder he did not commit. Caroline Ross must be married in order to collect a legacy, but she does not want a husband. An unholy alliance is made to make her an almost instant widow, and Reverend Horace Cotton, the Ordinary of Newgate, performs the ceremony in Darwent’s cell.

JOHN DICKSON CARR Bride of Newgate

    “The Bride of Newgate” returns to her friends and their pre-hanging party across the street from the gallows. But fate in the form of the Battle of Waterloo cuts down Dick’s uncle and two cousins in the prime of their lives and leaves Darwent the family title. Dick, now a Peer, can only be tried in the House of Lords, who forthwith pardon him.

    The year is 1815. Now armed with a title, money and property, Darwent can track down the evil “Coachman” responsible for the murder that he was to be hanged for. Caroline, heiress and marchioness, falls one-sidedly in love with Dick. Married in name only, she aids and abets his search to unravel the twisted background of the crime.

JOHN DICKSON CARR Bride of Newgate

    Through a set of interlocking puzzles, Dick finds out that he was kidnapped and framed by mistake. With duels, a disappearing room, brawls and arson, the action is fast and violent. The London of 1815 is wrapped around the story until you can almost smell it.

    Reverend Cotton is only one of a cast of colorful characters winging in and out of this spectacle. Scenes range from the House of Lords and the gaming clubs of Mayfair to the meanest gin shops in the East End.

    Time has not tarnished this tale. John Dickson Carr was as noted for his historical fiction as he was for his locked room stories with Dr. Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale. This fresh reprint [from Carroll & Graf] makes another fascinating story available in a handsomely bound paperback.

— Reprinted from The Poisoned Pen, Vol. 7, No. 1, Fall-Winter 1987.