Chief Inspector Hadley reaches his office in a content state of mind. About to retire in a month's time, his thoughts are on the book that he is writing chronicling his experiences in the Police force. A call from his superior soon takes away his cheer, however. A Vicar, it seems had gone visiting a Colonel and had stayed over. In the night, he was visited by a poltergeist -Who? What? (The Chief Inspector, you see, having never been to Hogwarts and thus having never received a welcome by way of water-balloons by Peeves the Poltergeist - is stumped and the explanation provided stumps him still further).
Anyway, this relative of Peeves, smashed the furniture and threw ink-bottles at the vicar#. As the concerned family of the host, aroused by their guest's screams, rushed towards his room, they found another of their guests, a bishop, standing in his night-shirt out in the lawn, claiming that he had seen a notorious criminal there.
Even as Hadley is wondering whether his superior is pulling his leg, he is visited by the Military gent who had played host to vicars, bishops, and poltergeists. Colonel Standish tells it all in detail also adding that the bishop has a habit of sliding down bannisters and pulling the hair of unsuspecting house-maids.
As Hadley is trying to gather his wits round him, his junior brings round the card of a visitor. Herr (Dr.) Sigismund Von Hornswoggle would like to see the inspector. A peeved Hadley (all happiness gone and suffering a head-ache) tells his subordinate that he is too busy to see anyone but a massive figure barges into his cabin....
This is just the beginning of a book that has young men who fly the inner-clothing of ladies on the mast, ginches who fall into the arms of the heroes, murderers who eat the dinner of the person they murder, criminals who pose as gentlemen, mystery writers who write under two names, bishops who play detectives, and detectives who judge beauty pageants. All rollicking fun and a decent mystery.
John Dickson Carr is quite a favourite writer in the blogosphere. For two recent well-written posts on him go here and here.
For a review of quite a few of his books go here.
Submitted for Support Your Local Library Challenge:
Also submitted for the following challenges: A-Z (Titles), Borrowed Books, Criminal Plots, Find the Cover, Mystery and Suspense, Vintage Mystery.
Opening Line: Chief Inspector Hadley had been almost cheerful when he reached his office that morning.
Title: The Eight of Swords
Author: John Dickson Carr
Publication Details: London: Pan Books, 1961
First Published: 1952
Series: Gideon Fell
Other Books Read: He Who Whispers, The Three Coffins
The book is available on the Net. I borrowed it from a library.
Entry for letter E in the Crime Fiction Alphabet Meme.
vicar# For another vicar who had a torrid time, read this post.