Re: The Sleeping Sphinx (1947)
The beginning of serious decline. The only murder – and it is not an “impossible,” or for that matter very interesting, crime -- took place six months before the beginning of the novel, and what remains is a pretty dull murder-in-retrospect story. Things pick up about halfway with the locked crypt business, but unfortunately this turns out to be a superfluity thrown in to alleviate the tedium, since it has nothing to do with the main crime -- though the explanation is convincing. Clueing is fair, though the best clue, involving a trout stream, is “borrowed” from Snow’s Death Under Sail. The “psychology” is very dated, and altogether this is a tired performance.
Reading this book reminded me very much of reading The Skeleton in the Clock, an H.M. from the following year (1948) which also deals with a long-past crime and is a dull read, despite such thrills as a child's mutilated corpse, etc. He Who Whispers (1946) is also concerned with murder-in-retrospect but avoids (marvelously) the doldrums.
There are some disappointing earlier Carrs -- Wire Cage and Seeing is Believing come to mind -- but at least they are entertaining, if stupid. This book is not at all stupid, but it is terribly dull.
2 stars out of 5.
Last edited by Patrick Gore; September 19th, 2004 at 06:24 PM.