Here in Norway we have this strange tradition of reading mysteries during the Easter holidays. I just finished an oldie by Carter Dickson. My Late Wives is extremely funny in parts, tense in others and keeps me double-guessing myself until the end.
I’m thinking that with the technology available in 1946 Bewlay probably would have gotten away with the murders he did get away with. That is, until he went head-to-head with Merrivale. Today someone might have gotten him filmed somehow.
Sir Henry Merrivale is a delightful character. He is of the old detecting school (Poirot/Marple) but without the apparent self-control of the others. Merrivale is large, loud, active and has a noisy temper. The scene at the game hall at the beginning of the novel is one example of his bluster – and also of Carr’s well-written humor. I laughed at that scene and giggled at some of the comments Sir Henry Merrivale made later on.
We get real tension in My Late Wives. I read this novel a while back and was surprised at how I again became caught up in it. The wonderful thing about it is that time matters not when it comes to humor and tension. I love reading the older language and scenery wrapped neatly up in the spirit of its time.
Back to the tension. There are a couple of things worth mentioning. Bewlay is a great serial murderer to have in a mystery. He is a slightly above average man according to witnesses but impossible to describe. A natural blender or reader of people. His charm brought him women with small inheritances, women who would not be missed. Perfect victims these women who longed for the love of another. In a sense it is really sad to realise that there are plenty of men and women out there who fit this description at this very moment. I find it frightening to realise that there are probably plenty of Bewlay’s of one type or another just waiting to take advantage of such people.
Spooky house – there is definitely a spooky house in My Late Wives. My Late Wives is worth reading just for that scene – that and the above gaming hall. Carter Dickson did an excellent job of getting me at the edge of my seat.
Like many mysteries of its and our age My Late Wives is purely for entertainment. I was entertained.
- Publisher: William Morrow & Co., Inc.; First Edition edition (1946)
- ASIN: B000GLJQVC
Translated by Finn B. Larsen (1984) +++
2 thoughts on “Dickson, Carter: My Late Wives / Mine ekskoner (Sir Henry Merrivale XVII) (1946)”
It is scary that there are people like that out there. I can’t understand how it makes sense to anyone to take a life just to get some money.
I’m curious about the Norwegian tradition. Reading mysteries might reflect on the mysteries of life– Creating life–which springtime represents?
It started with an ad about a mystery novel. This was in 1923. The advert was: “The train to Bergen was robbed last night.” This heading in one of the papers of the day made people curious and they phoned in to the train-company (NSB) and asked questions. That led to a statement being issued to the effect that nothing had happened and that this was about a book being launched about the detective Jonathan Jerv. The books written with him are pretty good detecting stories.
Next year the publishing industry had something to build on and here we are nearly 100 years later and probably the only country in the world where people love reading about murders during a tradition where a person was supposed to have been crucified. Weird, but then we are Norwegian.