Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Curse of the Bronze Lamp by Carter Dickson

Sometimes you find a magical lamp that when you rub it out comes a genie that would fulfil all your wishes and sometimes you find a cursed lamp that brings destruction to all those who own it. Lady Helen Loring of Severn Hall finds a Bronze Lamp during her excavations with her father in Cairo. This is not the Lamp that grants one's wishes but looks like one that could cause death and pain. First Professor Gilary dies of a Scorpion Sting, if such a thing is even possible Helen wonders. And then soothsayer Alim Bey forecasts that Helen would go poof into the air before she reaches her room in Severn Hall. When just such a thing happens, you wonder if the curse of the Lamp is not just a superstition.

There are two witnesses who notice Helen run into her home and within seconds they find her Mackintosh and the bronze Lamp in the middle of the hall. But where is Helen? With the house practically swarming with servants and the grounds being worked on by workers and all exits are clearly visible how could one leave the house without notice. But they search the house thoroughly and they couldn't find her in it. Not inside it, not outside it where did she go. Are they any secret rooms, secret passages, trap door and all? Or is this the curse of the Bronze Lamp? Sir Henry Merrivale is at hand to solve these mysterious circumstances.

I love these impossible scenarios and there is something exciting about somebody who practically disappears before one's eyes, add in a cursed Bronze Lamp, two men who love our Lady, two soothsayers and a Gothic house inspired by The Castle of Otranto, what else one wants? I had a vague idea about the first disappearance (yes there is more than one) and what surprises me again like in other Carter Dickson/John Dickson Carr's books I have read is that though the solution is just before my eyes I keep looking for something else elsewhere. This is the first book featuring Sir Henry Merrivale that I have read, I wouldn't say I got a clear picture of him, except that he loves scrapbooking, he is eccentric and funny. An exciting little puzzle!

Published in 1945 this book can be borrowed as an ebook from Open Library like I did.

No comments: