Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Carr, John Dickson

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(1906-1977) US writer of detective stories, long resident in the UK, who wrote also as Carter Dickson. His fondness for locked-room mysteries and impossible crimes produced eerily atmospheric Vampire novels like The Three Coffins (1935; vt The Hollow Man UK) and He Who Whispers (1946), which ultimately prove to be Rationalized Fantasies. Of the Carter Dickson titles, The Plague Court Murders (1934) plays similarly with Ghosts and Spiritualism, and The Curse of the Bronze Lamp (1945; vt Lord of the Sorcerers 1946 UK) with apparent dematerialization resulting from a Curse. The Burning Court (1937) is a tour de force in which dark hints of Witchcraft and Reincarnation are dispelled by ingenious detective rationalization, only to be later confirmed.

JDC also wrote heavily researched Timeslip fantasies confronting modern investigators with crimes in historical London. Of these, the 17th-century The Devil in Velvet (1951) – featuring also Possession, a Pact with the Devil and ensuing Quibbles – is the best. Fear is the Same (1956 as by Dickson) visits the 18th century and Fire, Burn! (1957) the 19th. Some routine Supernatural Fiction appears amid detections in The Department of Queer Complaints (coll 1940) and The Door to Doom (coll 1980) ed Douglas G Greene; the latter includes a bibliography. [DRL]

see also: Detective/Thriller Fantasy.

John Dickson Carr


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.