My choice for today's Forgotten Book is a novel first published in 1937 by the master of the locked room mystery, John Dickson Carr. The Burning Court is unusual in that it does not feature either of Dickson Carr's two regular series detectives, and extraordinary in terms of the twist in the epilogue.
Another unexpected facet of the book is its setting. Although Dickson Carr was American, he was a confirmed Anglophile, and often set his mysteries in England. However, he wrote this novel at a time when his British publisher was pressing him to write something less "grotesque", and he chose not only to set the book in Pennsylvania but also to start the story in a relatively low key, commonplace manner, with a young publisher's editor making a trip to his holiday home in the countryside.
Needless to say, things do not remain commonplace for long. There are two brilliant "impossible" mysteries. How could an entombed corpse disappear from its coffin? And how could a mysterious woman walk through a solid wall in the room of a dead man? The answers are enjoyable to discover, but Dickson Carr then throws in a further amazing development that is open to more than one interpretation. Quite a good book choice for April Fool's Day, actually!!
I have been on the lookout for this book for a while, and so I was absolutely delighted when Langtail Press made it available again. I do think that Langtail are doing a real service for fans of hard to find crime fiction classics – long may they continue to do so!