cover image The Lost Gallows: A London Mystery

The Lost Gallows: A London Mystery

John Dickson Carr. Poisoned Pen, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-7282-1988-2

Carr (1906–1977) is at the top of his game in this taut whodunit first published in 1931. Paris police chief Henri Bencolin, who has come to London for a play’s opening, is nearly run down in the street by a limousine driven by a dead man, whose throat, he can clearly see, has been slit from ear to ear. The victim turns out to have been the chauffeur for a wealthy Egyptian, Nezam El Moulk. The baffling murder appears connected to a campaign of terror orchestrated against El Moulk by someone who calls himself Jack Ketch after a notorious English hangman. Ketch manages to infiltrate the Egyptian’s locked residence to leave ominous objects, such as a wooden model of a gallows. The tension builds after Ketch calls the police and says, “Nezam El Moulk has been hanged on the gallows in Ruination Street,” a nonexistent address. The revelation of Ketch’s real name is both shocking and logical, and Carr maintains a creepy atmosphere throughout. The British Library Crime Classics series has unearthed another worthy golden age puzzle. (Apr.)