think: metaphysical detective
related: genre
anchors: notes | references | urls


Notes on 'Locked Room Mysteries' have been moved to locked rooms.

An important subgenre of the murder-mystery-detective tale. Mistery suggests a typology of Locked-Room Mysteries and Other Impossible Crimes.

Notable exemplars: Poe's 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' (the first?); Edmund Crispin's 'The Moving Toy Shop' (1946); Anthony Boucher's 'Rocket to the Morgue'


(Primary Literature -- 'Classic')

Allain, Marcel & Souvestre, Pierre


"Fantomas is essentially a popularized version of Lautrémont's elusive Maldoror. See Suzi Gablik, Magritte (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1985), 42-54."

* Blake, Nicholas

The Beast Must Die. 1938.

Carr, John Dickson

The Hollow Man. 1935.

AKA The Three Coffins. Contains Dr. Fell's famous 'Locked Rooms Lecture' (chapter 17).

* Chesterton, G. K.

The Penguin Complete Father Brown.

Leroux, Gaston

The Mystery of the Yellow Room. 1907.

Leroux, Gaston

Perfume of the Lady in Black.

Recently re-published by Dedalus!

* Van Gulik, Robert

The Haunted Monastery and The Chinese Maze Murders.

(Primary Literature -- 'Modern')

Abe, Kobo

The Ruined Map.

* Auster, Paul

The New York Trilogy. 1985-1986.

* Bardin, John Franklin

The John Franklin Bardin Omnibus.

Containing three novels: The Deadly Percheron (1946); The Last of Philip Banter (1947); Devil Take the Blue-tail Fly (1948).

Borges, Jorge Luis & Bioy-Casares, Adolfo

Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi.

"This work is a collection of spoof detective stories written in 1942 under the pen name of "Bustos Domecq." They tell the tale of a detective confined to a jail cell, and at the same time act as a satire on Argentine society. For years it was not made known that "Bustos Domecq" was really Borges and Bioy-Casares." (A. Ruch)

Brown, Fredric

The Screaming Mimi.

Capek, Karel

Tales from Two Pockets.

* Eco, Umberto

The Name of the Rose. 1980.

Gadda, Carlo Emilio

That Awful Mess on Via Merulana.

Hunt, Laird

The Impossibly.

Lem, Stanislaw

The Chain of Chance.

Lethem, Jonathan

Motherless Brooklyn.

See also 'Gun with Occasional Music'.

Puig, Manuel

The Buenos Aires Affair.

Perec, Georges

A Void.

Robbe-Grillet, Alain

The Erasers.

Tabucchi, Antonio

The Edge of the Horizon.

(Secondary Literature)

Irwin, John T.

The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story.

Merivale, Patricia & Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth (editors)

Detecting Texts: The Metaphysical Detective Story from Poe to Postmodernism.

"Although readers of detective fiction ordinarily expect to learn the mystery's solution at the end, there is another kind of detective story--the history of which encompasses writers as diverse as Poe, Borges, Robbe-Grillet, Auster, and Stephen King--that ends with a question rather than an answer. The detective not only fails to solve the crime, but also confronts insoluble mysteries of interpretation and identity. As the contributors to Detecting Texts contend, such stories belong to a distinct genre, the "metaphysical detective story," in which the detective hero's inability to interpret the mystery inevitably casts doubt on the reader's similar attempt to make sense of the text and the world."



ALAMUT.COM is artist owned and operated.
Page last modified: 3/8/02.
Mail: current address.