JOHN DICKSON CARR – Till Death Do Us Part. Harper & Brothers, US, hardcover, 1944. H. Hamilton, UK, hardcover, 1944. US paperback reprints include: Bantam #793, 1950; Bantam Books #1683, November 1957; International Polygonics Ltd., April 1985.

   If this isn’t John Dickson Carr at his wicked best, playing the game of cat and mouse in what was to him grandest game in the world, fooling the unwary reader at every turn — and even the wary ones, I’m willing to wager — it comes awfully close to it.

   There’s always a romance in his novels, often between a young man who is in head over heels in love with a young woman, one Lesley Grant in this case, and she in him — or so it seems. Dick Markham’s world is shaken upside down when he’s told that his betrothed may be the murderer of three earlier husbands, each found dead, killed by injections of prussic acid, in rooms that are so hermetically sealed that not even the famed Doctor Gideon Fell has been able to say how it could have been murder.

   If that weren’t enough, the next morning Sir Harvey Gilman, the Home Office pathologist who warned young Dick about his fiancée, is found dead in exactly the same circumstances as the crimes he accused Lesley of committing. It has to be murder — and could Lesley have done it? — but how?

   Almost every character in this superbly atmospheric novel comes under suspicion in some form or another at some time or another, and as always interruptions always occur just as a vital question is asked. Almost every chapter ends as the tables are turned on what we thought we know before. Keep an eye on everything that happens, and I mean everything. The clues are all there. I’ll bet you’ll never spot them.

   The solution to the locked room itself? Well, it’s complicated, but I’m sure it will work, and naturally knowing how the magician did it can often be a letdown. Please don’t let it. This a brilliant piece of work.