A murdered man in a top hat leads Dr. Gideon Fell to a killer with a sick sense of humor
At the hand of an outrageous prankster, top hats are going missing all over London, snatched from the heads of some of the city’s most powerful peoplebut is the hat thief the same as the person responsible for stealing a lost story by Edgar Allan Poe, the manuscript of which has just disappeared from the collection of Sir William Bitton? Unlike the manuscript, the hats don’t stay stolen for long, each one reappearing in unexpected and conspicuous places shortly after being taken: on the top of a Trafalgar Square statue, hanging from a Scotland Yard lamppost, and now, in the foggy depths of the Tower of London, on the head of a corpse with a crossbow bolt through the heart. Amateur detective and lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell is on the case, and when the dead man is identified as the nephew of the collector, he discovers that the connections underlying the bizarre and puzzling crimes may be more intimate than initially expected.
Reprinted for the first time in thirty years, the second novel in the Dr. Gideon Fell series, which need not be read in any order, finds the iconic character investigating one of the most extraordinary murders of his career. A baffling whodunnit with menace at every turn, The Mad Hatter Mystery proves that Carr is the “unexcelled master of creepy erudition, swift-moving excitement and suspense through atmosphere” (New York Times).
About the Author
John Dickson Carr (1906-1977) was one of the greatest writers of the American Golden Age mystery, and one of the only American authors to be included in England’s legendary Detection Club. Though he was born and died in the United States, Carr began his writing career while living in England, where he remained for nearly twenty years. Under his own name and various pseudonyms, he wrote more than seventy novels and numerous short stories, and is best known today for his locked-room mysteries. His beloved series character, Dr. Gideon Fell, was based on author G. K. Chesterton and appeared in twenty-four novels.
Otto Penzler, the creator of American Mystery Classics, is also the founder of the Mysterious Press (1975), a literary crime imprint now associated with Grove/Atlantic; Mysterious Press.com (2011), an electronic-book publishing company; and New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop (1979). He has won a Raven, the Ellery Queen Award, two Edgars (for the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, 1977, and The Lineup, 2010), and lifetime achievement awards from Noircon and The Strand Magazine. He has edited more than 70 anthologies and written extensively about mystery fiction.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a classic John Dickson Carr novel. It is highly original and very unpredictable to the end. A body is found at the bottom of some steps at Traitor's Gate at the Tower of London. This seemingly unexplainable crime is tied to mysterious thefts of people's hats and the disappearance of a valuable manuscript. Gideon Fell is on the case, and he is not disturbed by all the extraneous information that comes out in the investigation. The action takes place over one evening and night which tightens up the mystery considerably. Carr's classic mysteries are always enjoyable reading.
This book has been widely praised (at least on the Internet) as being one of John Dickson Carr's best. I remember reading somewhere that Dorothy Sayers gave this book rave reviews. So once again I swim upstream against the tide of great reviews because this was one of those books where by the end I just didn't care about who the killer was -- I just wanted to finish the book so I could move on to the next one.As the story opens, it seems that one Sir William Bitton has been a victim of "the Mad Hatter," someone who goes around stealing hats and leaving them in bizarre places, for example, leaving a barrister's wig on a horse. Bitton also has lost something very valuable: a manuscript that turns out to be the first recorded detective story by Edgar Allan Poe. But these problems are miniscule in comparison to the fact that his nephew has turned up dead at the Traitor's Gate at the Tower of London, done in by a crossbow bolt. It is up to Dr. Gideon Fell and Inspector Hadley of Scotland Yard to get to the root of the problem -- which is difficult because of the number of possible suspects.The basic mystery here is awesome. There are enough people to give any would-be armchair detective a run for his/her money in trying to solve the mystery. The story tends to drag on (imho) a bit too long, imho, as Carr lays out hints and clues for the reader to follow. Overall...not bad, but the book prior to this one in the series (Hag's Nook) is much more serious and tends to get down to business a bit more quickly -- my preference in mystery novels precisely. I wouldn't recommend this to people who think they're getting a cozy mystery, because it's not; hard-core and British mystery readers might enjoy it, but do remember it was written in 1933 so the language tends to be a bit overdone and somewhat archaic at times. Overall, not bad; I'll continue the series for sure!