The Crooked Hinge by John Dickson Carr (1938)

Twenty five years ago John Farnleigh was packed off to America by a parent who had finally run out of patience with him. Just over a year ago, following the deaths of his father and elder brother, he returned to England as Sir John. But now a man going by the name of Patrick Gore claims that he is the real heir to Farnleigh Close. His story is that there was a Prince and the Pauper style switch of identities that occurred just before the Titanic sank. Whilst Patrick had been happy with his new life, upon reading of Farnleigh’s return he determined to take back what was rightfully his.

One man believes he can prove which of the two men is the genuine article and it is while he is working alone concluding his test that death inevitably strikes and the proof is stolen.

So who is the real John Farnleigh and is there now any way to prove it? How does this relate to the murder of a local woman almost a year ago to the day? What did the servant see in the attic that has put her out of her mind? And what is the significance of the Crooked Hinge?

This is a fantastic read due to a sudden shift in emphasis which took the story in a very different direction from what I was expecting. Miss Dane’s revelation was also a great surprise which also significantly changes how the competing claims are to be understood.

My one small quibble is that Dr Fell does not have to present all his deductions in detail – but this is minor. Carr has produced a solution to an impossible crime that at first impression comes from nowhere but as some key scenes are described again, it can be seen that the clues were there all along.

Vintage Mystery Challenge

Fulfils “Why – Author’s first/last name begins with the same letter as yours”.




4 thoughts on “The Crooked Hinge by John Dickson Carr (1938)”

  1. I love everything about this book – the setup, the pacing, the horror, the insane solution. For some reason popular opinion seems to have shifted towards it being over-rated in recent years. I still see it as one of Carr’s best.

    Liked by 1 person

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