Wednesday, May 13, 2009

IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES

Of all sub-genres of detective fiction, the purest and most elevated is the "locked room" or "impossible" mystery. In this type of story, the author presents a murder that apparently could not possibly occur, baffling everyone, including the reader, until the brilliant detective figures out what happened. John Dickson Carr was the unrivalled master, but numerous other authors have concocted mind-bending plots that seem like pure magic. More than 2,000 of these impossible crimes were listed and examined by Robert Adey (see the first book listed below) in this most challenging of all detective story forms.

Adey, Robert, Locked Room Murders, Minneapolis & San Francisco, Crossover Press, 1991. The definitive bibliography of "impossible" crimes, listing all known examples to the publication date (2019 titles), with publication date, as well as describing the problem. In the back is the solution. Very fine without dust jacket, as issued. $100.00

Archer, Robert, Death on the Waterfront, N.Y., Doubleday Crime Club, 1941. First edition. A man is gassed in a locked room. Fine copy in dust jacket, which is a bit frayed at top of spine. Adey #89. $65.00

Baird, Edwin, "The Mystery of the Locked Door" in Vol. 2 of The World’s Best 100 Detective Stories, N.Y., Funk, 1929. First edition. Death by cocaine poisoning in a locked room. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Adey #117. $10.00

Beck, Henry, Death by Clue, N.Y., Dutton, 1933. First edition. All passengers on a ship are accounted for but a murder by stabbing is committed. Purple covers have a hint of fading, else a fine copy of a very scarce book in a very good dust jacket with light wear at spine ends and separation at front flap. Adey #142. $75.00

Blassingame, Wyatt, "The Murder Master" in John Smith Hears Death Walking, N.Y. Bart House, 1944. First edition and only edition of this scarce paperback original. Fine. Adey #175. $50.00

Browne, Howard, Thin Air, N.Y., Simon & Schuster, 1954. First edition. A man’s wife disappears from their house right after she has returned from a holiday at 3:00 a.m. An unusually fine copy in dust jacket. Adey #263. $275.00

Carr, John Dickson, It Walks By Night, N.Y., Collier, 1930. The author’s first book. Henri Bencolin investigates a beheading in a guarded room. Very good. Adey #320. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Eight of Swords, N.Y., Harper, 1934. First edition. Dr. Fell. NOT impossible but included because it is by Carr. Stamps on top and bottom edge, some cover stains, front flap of dust jacket pasted to inside front cover; about very good. Adey #309. $45.00

Carr, John Dickson, To Wake the Dead, N.Y., Harper, 1938. First edition. Death by strangulation in a locked and guarded suite of rooms. Very good. Adey #334. $35.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Problem of the Wire Cage, N.Y., Collier, n.d. (First published 1939). Dr. Fell solves a case of strangulation on a clay-based tennis court with no footprints left by the killer. Adey #330. $20.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Problem of the Wire Cage, N.Y., Harper, 1939. First edition. Very good. $35.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Problem of the Green Capsule, N.Y., Harper, 1939. First edition. Good-very good. Adey #294. $30.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Black Spectacles, London, Remploy, 1981 (first published in the U.S. as The Problem of the Green Capsule). Dr. Fell in one of his best cases, but NOT impossible. Fine in dust jacket. Adey #294. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Man Who Could Not Shudder, N.Y., Books, Inc. 1944.Very good in dust jacket. Adey #323$20.00

Carr, John Dickson, Death Turns the Tables, N.Y., Harper,.1941. First edition. Dr. Fell on a case that is NOT impossible. Very good. Adey #305. $45.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Seat of the Scornful, London, Reploy, 1980. Late reprint; U.K. title of Death Turns the Tables. Fine in dust jacket. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Emperor’s Snuff-Box, N.Y., Harper, 1942. First edition. Not impossible murder of a collector. Near fine. Adey #310. $65.00

Another copy. First edition. Near fine in a very good dust jacket with wear and crease on spine. $250.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Emperor’s Snuff-Box, London, Ian Henry, 1982. Fine in dust lightly rubbed dust jacket. $20.00

Carr, John Dickson, Till Death Do Us Part, N.Y., Harper, 1944. First edition. Dr. Fell in the odd case of a poisoning in a room with a freshly made bullet hole in the window. Very good. Adey #333. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, He Who Whispers, N.Y., Harper, 1946. First edition. Dr. Fell and a stabbing in a guarded tower. Very good in lightly chipped dust jacket. Adey #315. $35.00

Another copy. First edition. Very good in heavily chipped, price-clipped dust jacket. $25.00

Another copy. Fine in lightly chipped dust jacket. $75.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Sleeping Sphinx, N.Y., Harper, 1947. First edition. Dr. Fell checks on a coffin moving in a locked vault. Stain on back cover, else very good. Adey #332. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, Below Suspicion, N.Y., Harper, 1949. First edition. Dr. Fell examines a case of poisoning in a locked house occupied by only two people, one of whom is the victim. Name on front endpaper, else about fine. Adey #293. $15.00

Another copy. Book club edition. Fine in rubbed dust jacket. $10.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Bride of Newgate, N.Y., Harper, 1950. First edition. A stabbing murder occurs in a room that is later proved to have not been entered for two years.Very good in dust jacket. Adey #296. $20.00

Another copy. First edition. Library stamps, else very good in worn dust jacket. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Devil in Velvet, N.Y., Harper, 1951. Very good in dust jacket. A 17th-century murder; NOT impossible. Adey #308. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Nine Wrong Answers, N.Y., Harper, 1952. First edition. A man is poisoned in a bar but no one had come near enough to doctor his drink. Fine in dust jacket, which is lightly chipped at spine ends and corners. Adey #325. $75.00

Carr, John Dickson, and Adrian Conan Doyle, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, N.Y., Random House, 1954. Second printing. Contains "The Adventure of the Highgate Miracle," an impossible crime story in which a man disappears from a house under police observation. About fine. Stories in Adey #337. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection, N.Y., Harper, 1954. First edition. Very fine in bright, fresh dust jacket with trivial wear at spinal extremities. Numerous impossible crime stories in Adey #344. $125.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Third Bullet and Other Stories of Detection, N.Y., Harper, 1954. First edition. Name, else fine in dust jacket with tape stains at edges of flaps. $50.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Third Bullet and Other Stories, N.Y., Black, n.d. (First published 1954). Near fine in dust jacket. Stories in Adey. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, Fire, Burn!, N.Y., Harper, 1957. First edition. Name, tape stains, else very good in dust jacket. Adey #311. $20.00

Another copy. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. $40.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Dead Man’s Knock, N.Y., Harper, 1958. First edition. Dr. Fell checks into a stabbing in a locked room. Near fine in soiled and lightly chipped dust jacket. Adey #304. $20.00

Carr, John Dickson, In Spite of Thunder, N.Y., Harper, 1960. First edition. Dr. Fell looks into a murder by falling from a balcony with no one near enough to have caused it. Fine in dust jacket with minor wear at spine ends and with a closed tear on front panel. Adey #319. $45.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Witch of the Low-Tide, N.Y., Harper, 1961. First edition. Murder by strangulation in a beach hut surrounded by unmarked sand. Label apparently moved from front endpaper, else fine in a crisp dust jacket. Adey #336. $35.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Demoniacs, N.Y., Harper, 1962. First edition. Death by fright on London Bridge. NOT impossible. Fine in price-clipped dust jacket. Adey #307. $40.00

Another copy. Fine in fine dust jacket with a tiny chip at base of spine. $40.00

Carr, John Dickson, Most Secret, N.Y., Harper, 1964. Fine in near fine dust jacket. Not a mystery; originally published in 1934 under the pseudonym Roger Fairbairn as Devil Kinsmere. Included on this list only because it is by Carr. Adey #324. $15.00

Carr, John Dickson, The House at Satan’s Elbow, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1965. First U.K. edition. Dr. Fell looks into a shooting in a locked room. Fine in dust jacket. Adey #317. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, Dark of the Moon, N.Y., Harper, 1962. First edition. Dr. Fell investigates a blunt instrument murder on a terrace covered with unmarked sand. Fine in very good dust jacket. Adey #302. $35.00

Another copy. Very fine in very fine dust jacket. $75.00

Carr, John Dickson, The House at Satan’s Elbow, N.Y., Harper, 1965. First edition. A victim is shot in a sealed room. Very fine in dust jacket. Adey #317. $50.00

Carr, John Dickson, Papa-la Bas, N.Y., Harper, 1968. First edition. A woman disappears from a moving carriage that is under constant observation. Fine in fine dust jacket that has two creases in the laminate, made during production. Adey #327. $25.00

Carr, John Dickson, Deadly Hall, N.Y., Harper, 1971. First edition. Defenestration from a locked bedroom. A fine copy in dust jacket. Adey #303. $65.00

Carr, John Dickson, The Door to Doom, N.Y., EQ Book Club, 1980. Fine in first edition dust jacket. Several impossible short stories. Adey #355. $20.00

Carr, John Dickson, Fell and Foul Play, N.Y., International Polygonics, 1991. First edition. Several impossible short stories (a woman is stabbed in a locked tower, a man is bludgeoned in a room with locked windows and doors, etc.). Very good-near fine in dust jacket. Adey #2014-2016. $65.00

Carr, John Dickson, Merrivale, March & Murder, N.Y., International Polygonics, 1991. First edition. Uncommon. Several impossible short stories. Fine in dust jacket. $100.00

Chipperfield, Robert Orr, The Second Bullet, N.Y., Burt, 1919. Reprint. A newly discharged gun lies next to a dead woman in her locked room. Scarce title. Not in Adey, who lists a different book by Chipperfield. Fine in a nice early dust jacket. $37.50

Clason, Clyde B., The Man from Tibet, N.Y., Doubleday Crime Club, 1938 First edition. A heart attack is induced in a locked room. Theocritus Lucius Westborough bibliomystery about an 8th century Tibetan manuscript. Very good. Adey #461. $50.00

Another copy. N.Y., Sun Dial, 1939. Very fine in chipped dust jacket. $45.00

Another copy. N.Y., Sun Dial, 1939. Front cover spotted, else fine in chipped dust jacket. $35.00

Clason, Clyde B., Dragon’s Cave, N.Y., Doubleday Crime Club, 1939. First edition. A Theocritus Lucius Westborough "impossible" crime novel, in which a man disappears from a locked, guarded room surrounded by unmarked snow. All the books in this series are notoriously rare in collector’s condition. Dust jacket by Artzybashoff. Adey #458. Fine in dust jacket. $500.00

Another copy. Remains of bookplate on front endpaper, else fine in dust jacket, which is chipped at spine ends and has a crease down the length of the spine; front panel clean and bright. $100.00

Clason, Clyde B., Green Shiver, N.Y., Doubleday Crime Club, 1941. First edition. Death by shooting in a well-guarded room.Bookshop stamp, covers spotted, spine faded; good only in a cut-down Boris Artzybashoff dust jacket. Adey #460. $65.00

Another copy. First edition. Fair-good only. $25.00

Forrest, Richard, A Child’s Garden of Death, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1975. First edition. A victim is shot to death in a locked room. Rubber stamp on front endpaper, edges foxed, else fine in a sharp dust jacket. Adey #744. $20.00

Another copy. 2nd printing. Fine in dust jacket. $20.00

Forrest, Richard, Death Through the Looking Glass, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1978. First edition. Witnesses see a plane fall into the ocean and then vanishes. Ex-library copy in unmarked dust jacket. Adey #747. $20.00

Another copy. 2nd printing in ex-library dust jacket. $15.00

Forest, Richard, The Death at Yew Corner, N.Y., Holt, 1981. First edition. Murder by suffocation in a locked room. Initials stamped on endpaper, else fine in dust jacket. Adey #745. $20.00

Forrest, Richard, Death on the Mississippi, N.Y., St. Martin’s, 1989. First edition. A large houseboat disappears from a stretch of river that is guarded at both ends by a manned bridge. Fine in dust jacket. Adey #746. $25.00

Latimer, Jonathan, The Mink-Lined Coffin, London, Methuen, 1960. First U.K. edition of Black Is the Fashion for Dying. Someone is shot to death during a closely observed film sequence. Fine in dust jacket. Adey #1170. $45.00

Rawson, Clayton, No Coffin for the Corpse, London, Stacey, 1972. First U.K. edition; first published in 1942. A shooting a guarded room has a witness, but there is no weapon. The Great Merlini solves the case. Adey #1571. Fine in dust jacket.

Rawson, Clayton, The Great Merlini, Boston, Gregg, 1979. First edition of the complete Merlini stories, all of which are impossible crimes. Very fine in dust jacket. Adey #1572-1578. $100.00

Selwyn, Francis, Cracksman on Velvet, London, Deutsch, 1974. First edition of the first Sgt. Verity book. Gold bullion is stolen from a locked luggage van on a moving railway. Fine in dust jacket. Adey #1698. $65.00

Severy, Melvin L., The Darrow Enigma, N.Y., Dodd, Mead, 1904. First U.S. edition. Death by poisoning in front of witnesses, apparently by an invisible agency. A scarce book. Very good copy. Adey #1703. $65.00

Van Dine, S.S., The "Canary" Murder Case, N.Y., Scribner, 1928. Philo Vance investigates when Broadway blonde is strangled to death in a locked apartment. Bookplate, else near fine. Adey #1844. $17.50

Another copy. N.Y., Grossett & Dunlap. Illustrated with scenes from the William Powell movie. Good only. $15.00

Another copy. N.Y., Collier. Fine. $17.50

Another copy. Boston, Gregg, 1980. New introduction by Chris Steinbrunner; illustrated with scenes from the William Powell movie. Near fine in dust jacket. $20.00

Van Dine, S.S., The Kennel Murder Case, N.Y., Scribner, 1933. First edition. Vance investigates a murder by shooting in a locked room. Near fine, bright copy. Adey #1846. $35.00

Van Dine, S.S., The Dragon Murder Case, N.Y., Grossett & Dunlap, (ca. 1934). A man dives into a pool that is under constant observation but he never surfaces and, when it is drained, there is no body. Tear in map endpaper, else near fine in a gorgeous dust jacket lightly chipped at top of spine. Adey #1845. $35.00

Another copy. N.Y., Otto Penzler Books. An exact facsimile of the first edition. As new in original shrink wrap. $40.00

Wells, Carolyn, The Wooden Indian, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1935. First edition. A Fleming Stone novel in which a man is shot with an arrow in an impenetrable room. Tiny marks endpapers, else fine, fresh copy in dust jacket, which is rubbed at edges and worn at spine tips. Adey #1931 $85.00

Wells, Carolyn, Crime Tears On, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1939. First edition. A man is stabbed to death in a locked room. Label on front endpaper, else fine in a very good dust jacket. Adey #1911 $75.00

Winslow, Horatio, and Leslie Quirk, Into Thin Air, N.Y., Doubleday, 1929. First U.S. edition.

Weird appearances (and disappearances) of people and objects in graveyards, seances, etc. A very scarce title. Good copy only. Adey #1967 $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, Sinners Go Secretly, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1928. First U.S. edition of this very scarce Queen’s Quorum title featuring Dr. Eustace Hailey, who is featured in All of Wynne’s impossible crime stories. The Name "Wilson" is in ink on the spine, some white staining to rear cover, and a name clipped from the front endpaper, else very good, tight copy. Adey #2003 and #2004. $85.0

Wynne, Anthony, The Horseman of Death, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1928. First U.S. edition. A man alone in a locked tower room is bludgeoned to death and the whip that he was carrying disappears. Fine in a chipped dust jacket. Adey #1993. $100.00

Another copy. First U.S. edition. Bookplate, else fine, sharp copy. $65.00

Another copy. First U.S. edition. Very good plus. $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Red Scar, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1928. First U.S. edition. A body disappears, then reappears the next day in a car where there was no hiding place and insufficient time to make the transfer. Some staining at lower edge, else very good. Adey #2000. $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Mystery of the Ashes, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1929. First U.S. edition. A murder–and his victim–disappear from a locked room. Very good. Adey #1999. $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Silver Scale Mystery, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1931. First U.S. edition. There is a death by stabbing in a locked room, followed by another murder when someone is shot in a locked room. Spine wear, else very good. Adey #1998. $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Blue Vesuvius, N.Y., Burt, 1931. Reprint. A man dying from a hunting accident is stabbed to death in a locked and guarded room. Uncommon title. Very good in a chipped dust jacket. Adey #1982. $45.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Cotswold Case, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1933. First U.S. edition. Dr. Hailey investigates murder by shooting in a locked room. About fine. Adey #1985. $35.00

Wynne, Anthony, Death of a Golfer, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1934. First edition (precedes U.K. edition by three years). A golfer who has just teed off is stabbed to death but no one was close enough to commit the act. Very good-near fine. Adey #1987. $75.00

Wynne, Anthony, Death of a Banker, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1934. First U.S. edition. A lone horse rider in plain view of spectators is shot to death. About very good. Adey #1986. $45.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Red Lady, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1935. First U.S. edition. A man standing alone in front a painting is stabbed to death. Fine in a chipped and stained dust jacket. Adey #1992. $85.00

Another copy. First U.S. edition. Small partially removed label on front endpaper, else fine. $60.00

Another copy. Burt. Reprint. Good-very good. $25.00

Wynne, Anthony, Murder in Thin Air, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1936. First U.S. edition. The solo pilot of an airplane is shot and stabbed to death. Dust jacket flaps were glued down and then partially removed, as was a label on the front endpaper. Scarce title. Adey #1997. $40.00

Wynne, Anthony, Door Nails Never Die, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1939. First U.S. edition. A man with a serious wound apparently opens a heavy gate that he could not possibly have opened, then is alone when he is stabbed to death. Spine ends worn, else very good. Scarce title. Adey #1990. $45.00

Wynne, Anthony, The Green Knife, N.Y., Caxton House, 1939. Reprint. Three people are stabbed to death in a locked room. Near fine in dust jacket with chips at top of spine and on rear panel. Adey #1984. $45.00

Wynne, Anthony, Emergency Exit, N.Y., Messner, 1944. First U.S. edition. A man is stabbed to death in his private air raid shelter, surrounded by unmarked snow. Edges rubbed, else fine in a chipped dust jacket. A very scarce title. Adey #1991. $85.00

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