CARTER DICKSON “Blind Man’s Hood.” Short story. First published in The Sketch, UK, Christmas 1937. Collected in The Department of Queer Complaints (Morrow, 1940). Reprinted in Best Ghost Stories (edited by Anne Ridler, Faber and Faber, 1945), The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries (edited by Otto Penzler, Black Lizard, 2014) and The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories (edited by Martin Edwards, British Library, 2018). Also reprinted in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, December 1966, as “To Wake the Dead,” as by John Dickson Carr.

   And with all of those credentials on this story’s résumé, I’m sure I missed some, but this is one story that deserves all of them. Personally, I usually feel that tales in which the real story is told to listeners in the present as already having taken place in the place are awkward and forced, but not this time.

   A young married couple visiting a manor home on Christmas Eve find the front door open, all the lights on, a fire igoing, but otherwise the house is empty. Finally a young girl appears, perhaps a governess or a secretary, who then explains why the family themselves are not at home. They are, in fact, deliberately staying away. It seems that a murder had once taken place in the house, one that had never been solved.

   The woman who had died was found alone in the house, with all of the doors and windows locked. There were also no footprints in the snow surrounding the house, other than those made by the man who had walked up to it while under full observation.

   The house is spooky, and the story the girl tells is spookier still. This also a ghost story, but the the solution to the crime has nothing to do with the supernatural. I do not think that anyone but John Dickson Carr could have conjured up a story such as this one, a tale that combines the two so well — a logical puzzle and a more than a wisp of the eerie — and yet keeps the two parts completely separated.

   This one was an absolute pleasure to read. (I read the story in EQMM. I wish I owned the original Morrow hardcover edition!)