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The Three Coffins Mass Market Paperback – 1960


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Dell Publishing; First Thus edition (1960)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000F5X3LI
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,801,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amitabh Das on January 5, 2000
Format: Library Binding
`The Three Coffins' fully bears out what I've felt about John Dickson Carr's work - his murders are often so diabolical and inexplicable that any rational explanation of them has to be somewhat of a letdown. In this case he successfully keeps the reader so focussed on the chilling circumstances surrounding the deaths that the reader barely stops to question what he/she is reading. I'm not convinced that the clue that enabled Dr Fell to overturn the apparent ordering of the facts was entirely `fair' (in that it does not give the reader a fair chance to decipher it). This sticks out as a flaw in what is otherwise a riveting read. The chapter where Dr Fell expounds on locked room crimes can be adopted as a thesis on the subject.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 1998
Format: Library Binding
John Dickson Carr is one of the greatest mystery writers of all time, and THE THREE COFFINS is his masterpiece. A brilliantly plotted piece of work with a cleverly worked out deduction by Dr. Gideon Fell, who unravels not one, but two bafflingly impossible crimes. The reader is given more than enough clues to solve the puzzle, but the hints are so subtle, the plot so complex, and the red herrings so numerous, that even the most astute reader will probably be at a loss. A classic.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1999
Format: Library Binding
In all my long experience of reading this genre (and encompassing the great names to the lesser-knowns such as Bell, Beeding, Bruce, the Coles, Gilbert, King, Masterman, McCabe, Rhode, etc.), I have never encountered so grand and so masterful a novel as this - a sheer joyful celebration of the detective novel, bearing within its hallowed pages the most famous digression upon the greatest pursuit known to literary characters: the Locked-Room Lecture. The plot is extravagant and improbable, aye, but the solution is sheer ingenuity, surpassing all other attempts at writing a detective novel. The characterisations are masterful, especially the powerful figure of Professor Charles Vernet Grimaud. The writing is excellent, and the book is, to quote the greatest detective of all time, a certain Dr. Gideon 'Gargantua' Fell: "Whang in the gold!"
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lazza on January 19, 2004
Format: Library Binding
'Three Coffins' is certainly a class act. Complete with bizarre characters, a locked room murder, magic (!), and a sleuth who knowingly outwits everyone, this book is an over-the-top, hysterical example of detective stories (by the likes of Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Earl Stanley Gardner) adored by generations. It also has a delightfully dated 1930s London feel (think cardigans, fireplaces, smoking jackets, etc).
So snuggle up on a winter's evening, place your brain in 'suspend disbelief' mode, and enjoy this very clever yet silly story by John Dickson Carr. If nothing else it will bring a smile to your face.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Schwartz on February 16, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
And that is what Carr was. His books are still as entertaining today as they were when written in the 30's and 40's. He is a master of the "locked room" mystery, and the impossible crime. In this book there is a wonderful locked room mystery, and an open-air "locked room style" murder. Both crimes are connected, but the planning was so detailed and so ingenious that the puzzles even tax the considerable brain of Gervaise Fen. These are truly impossible and unexplainable crimes, and the underlying story behind it all goes back 30 years to another country and another time entirely. Fen and his crew must figure out the old mystery before they can begin to understand the new ones. The characters are truly wonderful, and the book is a classic. For anyone who loves detection novels, John Dickson Carr should not be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 11, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the greatest impossible crime, ever written. None can echo its ingenuity, none (with the exception of Rim of the Pit), can even come close.

Dr. Grimaud was working in his study on Saturdat evening, when a man wearing a mask ran into his study, and locked the door behind him. Witness's heard the two arguing, then gunshots. When the door was opened, Superintendent Hdley, and Dr. Gideon Fell found Grimaud alone, the murderer having walked through a locked door, infront of witness's, and not been seen or stopped.

Suspicion automatically turned to a deranged magician named Pierre Fley, who had threatened to kill Grimaud. But, shortly affter Grimaud was killed, Fley is shot dead on a snowy street. Witness's on both ends of the street see no one shoot him, despite the fact he was shot at close range. No footprints were found in the snow, and the gun was found laying ten feet away. Once again, the murderer was invisible, and lighter then air.

The only man who can solve this case is Dr. Fell. With his locked room lecture, and curiosity of bells, can he solve how a man was invisible, and lighter then air?
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This author is known as the Master of the Locked Room Mystery, and he does not disappoint his aficionados in "The Three Coffins." In fact Carr's serial detective, Gideon Fell takes a chapter off from the plot to present his famous 'locked room' lecture to a handful of long-suffering friends.

I can just picture myself with his friends after a nice lunch in the pub, throwing myself about and moaning, "Not THAT lecture again. Let's get on with the plot." All I got out of the lecture were the many ways ice and frozen blood could be used to kill someone who is supposedly alone in a sealed room.

Plus if you ask me, the murders in this book were cheats done with smoke (actually snow) and mirrors, and a clock that only the lumbering Dr. Fell had the brains to notice was incorrectly set. However, I don't read this author for his intricate murder set-ups. I read his books for their wonderfully ominous atmosphere. Here Carr does not disappoint. In "The Three Coffins," three brothers, jailed in Transylvania for bank robbery fake their deaths during an outbreak of the plague and are buried alive. The one with the shovel in his coffin digs his way to freedom, then leaves his brothers in their graves and runs off alone with the hidden bank loot.

Let's just say that the two brothers who are left behind play important roles in the murder and counter-murder many years later in London. I don't want to give away the plot, gimmicky though it is. Read "The Three Coffins" for a few good shudders.
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