The White Priory Murders by Carter Dickson

It’s December, 1931. James Bennett has been invited to spend Christmas at the White Priory. James is anxious to accept. Who can say “no” when there’s a glamorous movie star, Marcia Tait, also attending?

In addition to the hosts, other guests include Marcia’s producer, lover and the playwright for her next hit. There’s also Lord Canifest, a newspaper mogul and his daughter, Louise. Everyone is on edge — someone has been sending death threats and poisoned chocolates to the popular actress.

But James is also attending out of concern and curiosity – a trait he inherited from his well-known uncle, Sir Henry Merrivale (H.M.). H.M. is a man of successful accomplishments: he’s a qualified physician, managed the British Military Intelligence Dept., is a barrister – and is currently acting as the Chief Inspector for the Criminal Investigation Department for Scotland Yard.

After James is situated for the holidays at the White Priory, a heinous murder occurs – and here we begin one of Carter Dickson’s “locked room” mysteries.

The local constable and his staff are baffled – James is perplexed – not one person can figure out how a murderer got in and of a locked room with a house full of nearby guests. And what was the murder weapon? It’s truly an impossible crime.

Eventually H.M. enters the picture, bound and determined to flush out the perpetrator. The White Priory Murders was written in a different time, a different era. H.M. is relentless is solving this crime, going to extreme and convoluted lengths to close the case, without the use of modern technology.

For those of you looking for an easy, breezy mystery, this is not for you. The plot is not easy to follow. BUT, if you like a challenge and an impossible murder with plenty of players enriching a mystery so detailed and dense that the red herrings are practically served on a buffet table, then this mystery IS for you! Even the most serious sleuths will definitely need to be on their toes to follow this one through until the very end.

The White Priory Murders is another fine example of Poisoned Pen’s recently re-released British Library Crime Classics. Martin Edwards gives us a superb background synopsis of one of the best golden age mystery writers, John Dickson Carr, writing as Carter Dickson for his series featuring Sir Henry Merrivale (H.M.).

A copy of this book and the cover photo were provided by: Poisoned Pen Press.

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