- format e-book (Kindle) supplied by NetGalley by the Hatchette Group.
- ISBN 9781480472372
- originally published 1935. This e-book version published 2014 by Open Road Integrated Media
- available from Amazon - read a few pages through this link
- #5 in the Gideon Fell series
- author aka John Dickson
John Dickson Carr, a master of the Golden Age British-style mystery novel, presents Dr. Gideon Fell’s most chilling case, in which a clock-obsessed killer terrorizes London
A clockmaker is puzzled by the theft of the hands of a monumental new timepiece he is preparing for a member of the nobility. That night, one of the stolen hands is found buried between a policeman’s shoulder blades, stopping his clock for all time.
The crime is just peculiar enough to catch the attention of Dr. Gideon Fell, the portly detective whose formidable intellect is the terror of every criminal in London. Working closely with Scotland Yard, he finds that the case turns on the question of why the clock hands were stolen. And learning the answer will put Dr. Fell squarely in the path of a madman with nothing but time on his hands.
For Dr Gideon Fell this is the only case that has ever really frightened him, and before he can solve it he must find answers to some seemingly impossible questions: why was Calvin Boscombe standing near the corpse with a silencer on his gun? Who locked the attic door? And what has become of the sixteenth-century death-watch?
A number of the Gideon Fell titles have been released recently as e-books with a collective title THE MURDER ROOM.
DEATH-WATCH has the reputation of a classic of Golden Age crime fiction. In some ways it's main protagonist Dr Gideon Fell reminded me of detectives who went before and those who came after. He has a reputation for his great powers of deduction as did Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. And the similarities don't end there - there is the companion/observer Melson who compares favourably with Dr. Watson and Captain Hastings, and the policeman/foil Hadley who serves to demonstrate the superiority of Fell's deductive powers.
The plot is very complex and convoluted with a number of red herrings. At one stage Hadley is ready to make an arrest for the two murders that have taken place, but Fell manages to prove to him that he has been cunningly led to his conclusions by the real murderer. I think the complicatedness of the plot gives the reader a greater appreciation of the pared down simplicity of Agatha Christie's novels.Add to this some of the absurdity of detail: why use the gilt covered big hand of a clock as your weapon?; the meaning of why there is a sliver rather than a patch of light; a multiplicity of skylights, staircases, and sliding panels - just to identify a few.
To be honest, this title is not going to send me rushing to find another, but students of Golden Age crime fiction will appreciate that these out-of-print titles are being made available for modern readers.
I was interested in reading this for my participation in the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2014.
My Rating: 4.0
Biographical Notes (Hatchette UK)