Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Puzzles

I enjoy mysteries, thrillers, and tales of espionage, and especially those from the Golden Age. Today I came across a post about a favorite type of story from that era, "the locked room mystery," that Wikipedia defines as:
...a subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime—almost always murder—is committed under circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime and/or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene. The crime in question typically involves...no indication as to how the intruder could have entered or left, i.e., a locked room. Following other conventions of classic detective fiction, the reader is normally presented with the puzzle and all of the clues, and is encouraged to solve the mystery before the solution is revealed....
No secret passages or supernatural solutions allowed.

The master of such stories was certainly John Dickson Carr but many mystery authors wrote them (e.g. Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None). The post I found today from The Guardian in 2014 was "The top 10 locked-room mysteries," among which was an Ellery Queen I possess:
The King Is Dead by Ellery Queen (1951)

King Bendigo, a wealthy munitions magnate, has been threatened by his brother Judah, who announces that he will shoot King at midnight at his private island residence. King locks himself in a hermetically sealed office accompanied only by his wife, Karla. Judah is under Ellery Queen's constant observation. At midnight, Judah lifts an empty gun and pulls the trigger and at the same moment, in the sealed room, King falls back, wounded with a bullet. No gun is found anywhere in the sealed room and the bullet that wounds King came from Judah's gun – which didn't actually fire. Good, huh?....