I have always loved locked-room mysteries and since we all seem to be in a locked-room life these days, I thought it might be timely to recommend a few ‘impossible crime’ reads that might help to pass the time.
According to Wikipedia, the ‘locked-room’ or ‘impossible crime’ mystery is a subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime (almost always murder) is committed in circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to have committed the crime or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene.1
I have always loved these kinds of mysteries and in case you’d like something gripping to read during these lockdown days, I thought I’d recommend of my favourite ‘locked-room’ mysteries:
Author: Wilkie Collins (First Edition title page) (link)
While some may consider this epistolary novel a rudimentary locked-room mystery, Wikkie Collins’ tale of the disappearance of cursed Indian diamond the Moonstone from Rachel Verinder’s room is generally considered to be the first detective novel, and it established many of the ground rules of the modern detective narrative.
The Mystery of the Yellow Room
Author: Gaston Leroux (Cover of the First Edition) (link)
Written by Gaston Leroux, best known as the creator of The Phantom of the Opera, and published serially in the periodical L’Illustration in 1907. This seemingly impossible crime in which the criminal appears to disappear from a locked room has inspired authors such as Agatha Christie.
And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie (Cover of the first US edition) (link)
Originally published with a different title in 1939 after the minstrel song, which serves as a major plot point, in this masterpiece of modern literature ten strangers are summoned to a private residence on an island off the coast by a man they’ve never met. Agatha Christie’s incredible plot will keep you guessing until the last page.
These are only a few of the many mystery books that can help time pass faster in these days. Let us know in the comments if you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear from you!
A subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime is committed in circumstances under which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to have committed the crime
Ref. 1: Otto Penzler, ‘The Locked Room Mysteries’, The Independent (28 Dec 2014).