Tea Tonic and Toxin: Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club

Locked Room Mystery: The Three Coffins – The Hollow Man

Locked Room Mystery - The Three Coffins - The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr - Tea, Tonic & Toxin Book Club and Podcast
Locked Room Mystery - The Three Coffins - The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr - Tea, Tonic & Toxin Book Club and Podcast
Tea, Tonic, and Toxin
Locked Room Mystery: The Three Coffins - The Hollow Man
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Locked Room Mystery: The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man​

John Dickson Carr’s THE HOLLOW MAN (THE THREE COFFINS) is celebrated for its exceptional execution of the locked-room mystery, a sub-genre demanding ingenious plotting and cerebral depth. Many consider it the best locked room mystery of all time. It’s a mystery fiction masterpiece.

Learn More: Read our starter questions on The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man.

Get Excited: Check out the 2024 book list.

Be Heard: Tell us what you’re thinking here.

TRANSCRIPT: Locked Room Mystery: The Three Coffins / The Hollow Man

Sarah Harrison  00:24

Welcome to Tea Tonic & Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison.

 

Carolyn Daughters  00:35

And I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a cup of tea, a gin and tonic …

 

Sarah Harrison  00:40

… but not a toxin …

 

Carolyn Daughters  00:42

And join us on a journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer. Sarah, we’re going to talk about an amazing book today.

 

Sarah Harrison  00:56

We definitely are. But before we talk about this amazing locked room mystery, we have an amazing sponsor.

 

Carolyn Daughters  01:03

Today’s sponsor is Linden botanicals, a Colorado based company that sells the world’s healthiest herbal teas and extracts. Their team has traveled the globe to find the herbs that offer the best science-based support for stress relief, energy, memory, mood, kidney health, joint health, digestion and inflammation. US orders over $75 ship free. To learn more visit Lindenbotanicals.com. And use code mystery to get 15% off your first order.

 

Sarah Harrison  01:41

We have actually been talking most of the day. Yeah, we talk and talk, and talk and talk.

 

Carolyn Daughters  01:48

We have a couple of good podcast episodes under our belt. If you are behind on the podcasting, it’s time to catch up. We’ve got tons and tons to listen to and some stuff to see too, I think.

 

Sarah Harrison  02:00

Yeah. So if you are not in the loop, we have created a YouTube channel where we are not posting full interviews at this point. Although if you want that, let us let us know. We’ll consider it. But we are posting clips on our YouTube channel. Tea Tonic & Toxin is what it’s called.

 

Carolyn Daughters  02:21

So today we’re going to talk about The Hollow Man also known as The Three Coffins by John Dixon Carr.

 

Sarah Harrison  02:27

Yes! And if you are looking at a clip, I do want to hold up a copy. I have a super sweet vintage edition here that I’m very, very fond of.

 

Carolyn Daughters  02:40

And I have the British version of The Hollow Man. It’s called The Three Coffins in the United States. It’s The Hollow Man in the UK. I have the UK version. It’s a locked room mystery, and some consider it the best locked room mystery ever written. We have a lot to say. But we have a listener award that we want to get to first before we bid lest we forget. Today’s listener award goes to Kate Steer of Albany, New York. Thank you, Kate, for being amazing. And for being a member of the Tea Tonic & Toxin book club.

 

Sarah Harrison  03:16

Thank you, Kate! We appreciate you.

 

Carolyn Daughters  03:19

And we’re going to, I think I’ve already sent Kate a sticker. So I’m on it with the sticker game.

 

Sarah Harrison  03:26

Good job.

 

Carolyn Daughters  03:26

The stickers are really cool. They’re beautiful. If you would like your own sticker, all you have to do is comment on our website, tons of places on the website to comment. And there are lots of opportunities on Facebook and Instagram. Weigh in on YouTube and Spotify.

 

Sarah Harrison  03:44

We have so many avenues for interaction now.

 

Carolyn Daughters  03:48

We have Spotify. But we’re on all the platform.

 

Sarah Harrison  03:50

We’re on all the platforms, but Spotify had been upping their interaction game with like polls and questions. So I’m trying to keep up with that and with different polls.

 

Carolyn Daughters  04:02

You too can get your shout out and your sticker. And on top of all that because we have not asked you to do enough yet. We want you to listen to all the podcast episodes and review us. Five stars, please, on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to Tea, Tonic & Toxin.

 

Sarah Harrison  04:18

Do it. You can review us you can become a supporter of the show if you feel so inclined to support this podcast.

 

Carolyn Daughters  04:28

So many so many things that we’ve given them to do.

 

Sarah Harrison  04:32

I hope you wrote them all down.

 

Carolyn Daughters  04:34

You can also just rewind a little Is that what you’re doing a podcast? Yeah, go back a little on the podcast and we will go through all the 10 things you’re meant to do. Sarah, tell us about The Three Coffins, also known as The Hollow Man.

 

Sarah Harrison  04:49

Set against the backdrop of fog-shrouded London, The Three Coffins by John Dixon Carr is a timeless classic of the locked room mystery is genre published in 1934. The Three Coffins is a classic howdunit. A professor is found with a gunshot wound in a locked room with barred windows and bolted doors. Renowned detective Dr. Gideon Fell is called in to investigate the impossible murder, which defies rational explanation, navigating red herrings and unexpected twists. Through skillful storytelling Carr creates an entertaining and ingenious whodunit.

 

The book was named the best locked room mystery of all time, by a panel of 17 mystery authors and reviewers in 1981. It’s on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best mystery and thriller books of all time. It’s also number 40 on the Crime Writers Association’s list of the top 100 crime novels of all time, and 96 on the mystery writers of America’s top 100 mystery novels of all time.

 

Today we’re excited to talk about The Three Coffins also known as The Hollow Man in the UK. It’s our third book selection of 2024. You can learn more about all our book selections at teatonictoxin.com and on Instagram and Facebook @teatonicandtoxin.

 

Carolyn Daughters  06:25

So Sarah, what do you think about The Three Coffins?

 

Sarah Harrison  06:28

To me? It felt like a little bit of whiplash. Like we had just been reading Dashiell Hammett to start off the year. And then things got more extremely gritty with John Dixon . No, it is this person. Jameson Kane. It’s another three, three things. James M. Cain with The Postman Always Rings Twice. And then just getting greater and grittier in my estimation. And then The Three Coffins whipped me back to what felt like kind of the cozy armchair amateur quirky detective. So that feels uprising. Suddenly, I felt like I was in two different time periods.

 

Carolyn Daughters  07:13

And yet this is this book is what year 1934?

 

Sarah Harrison  07:19

We’re going in order, folks. It didn’t really come after The Postman Always Rings Twice.

 

Carolyn Daughters  07:23

Yeah. But they’re both 1934 novels, right?

 

Sarah Harrison  07:25

Yeah, it feels really different. I feel like we’re getting in, I talked about genre a lot because the development of the different sub genres always interests me. But it feels like we’re seeing those paths just kind of extremely diverge. Right now. Two different types of mysteries.

 

Carolyn Daughters  07:48

Different Yeah, different schools of mysteries with the British cozy and then the American hardboiled and now a sub-genre, which is the locked room mystery we’ve read too. With part of this as part of this book club, we have read a locked room mystery or two. Maybe we read more. We started with The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe.

 

Sarah Harrison  08:13

He puts it in his speech. Oh, you know what it was? There was a Father Brown story.

 

Carolyn Daughters  08:31

One of the Father Brown stories. That’s right. It is a locked room.

 

Sarah Harrison  08:34

Then there was it was the not the Australian one. It was the mesmerism one, huh?

 

Carolyn Daughters  08:42

Naughty, naughty string. And Notting Hill mystery mesmerism. Yeah. So we’ve read for you. And this one is considered by a lot of people to be the best one. So I don’t know necessarily how the best of anything is gauged? I’d be terrible at choosing that for any contest, including literature. However, there are a lot of things that this book does really well. And one is the author John Dixon Carr. He outlines exactly all of the different ways you can write a locked room mystery. And I think there’s a lot of reasons he does this. And I think we’re gonna want to discuss them. One of the reasons he does this is to show I have a mastery reader of all of the different things I could be doing. So in case you’re thinking, Oh, he’s just falling back on this trope or that he’s saying, No, I know all the tricks in the bag and I’m going to come up with something fresh here.

 

Sarah Harrison  09:40

It was fresh to show we spoil it. We say yeah, what happened?

 

Carolyn Daughters  09:46

Spoiler alert. And if you’re a listener, we do talk about how these books end right,

 

Sarah Harrison  09:52

not for our fresh new authors just releasing books, but for all of our book clubs selections. We don’t see Boil future books though I know that really ticks people off, right? Don’t do that. But we will respond to past books previously spoil we

 

Carolyn Daughters  10:07

  1. Yes. So spoil my.

 

Sarah Harrison  10:12

Yeah, well, the lake got shot before we got into the room.

 

Carolyn Daughters  10:17

Okay, so what we have here is let me look at my character list here. We have this guy. Okay, Professor Grimaud, who is shot and killed in a locked room? So we have the reader and the detective who is Dr. Gideon fall, have to figure out why. How did this happen? Why did he get shot? Who shot him? Where did the person who shot him disappear to? And how did he disappear? Yeah, yeah.

 

Sarah Harrison  10:51

And the second part of the twist, which I really thought was clever, is that the victim in this case was also the killer. He’s actually the criminal. And the one we think is the criminal is the victim. So I really kind of liked that turnabout here. And I did think it was quite fresh.

 

Carolyn Daughters  11:11

He does this in this really interesting chapter, which is a meta chapter. It’s like a dissertation. On locked room mysteries. He goes through the history of the locked room mystery. And he even addresses the reader, hey, reader, and he says, basically, I know I’m a character in a book. So let’s just go through this. Let’s do this

 

Sarah Harrison  11:32

guy’s like, Why pretend that this is not a mystery book, which was funny. Was that like, you call it the? So I looked up at Google? You called it the fourth wall. And I was calling it the third wall. And then when I googled them both, like I think they both apply. Oh, no.

 

Carolyn Daughters  11:50

So it’s meta. It takes you it takes the character and the reader out of the story. And it’s sort of the actor on the stage, who’s acting apart and interacting with people on the stage stops and turns to the audience and either gives us a little quiz or actually talks directly to the audience, like, can you believe this guy? That’s, that’s what I’m talking about. He’s doing here is he basically stops the story and says, Okay, Raider, let’s have a conversation about locked rooms, because I think he wanted the reader to know, I’m not just falling back on everything you’ve already seen in every other book. Like, let’s, let’s do this new, and I’m going to show you how it’s going to be new. Because I’m going to first tell you, I’ve mastered every other possible way. You could do a locked room mystery.

 

Sarah Harrison  12:39

Yeah, even like numbers. And, yeah, he was the part. Oh, let’s candidly glory in the noblest pursuits possible to characters in a book. I really, I thought that was it was kind of egotistical, but at the same time, I kind of loved it. Yeah, this guy really loves what he’s doing. He really, like, thinks the John’s thinks very highly of the genre, and kind of the cleverness involved in it. So I thought that was cute.

 

Carolyn Daughters  13:14

Yeah, yeah. So I thought it was interesting. I don’t know how I feel about the locked room mystery form. And I wanted to ask you, sir, what you think so I’m reading and I’m like, Oh, this is interesting. And it is an interesting book, and I enjoyed reading it. I’d never heard of it before. I didn’t really even know much about John Dickson Carr, who is a prolific writer. So all of that is great. But even with murders in the Rue Morgue, and the Notting Hill Mystery. I’m thinking is that no, it’s not the Notting Hill Mystery.

 

Sarah Harrison  13:49

It’s The Big Bow Mystery. And then, the one with G.K. Chesterton was it was the one with like, the Indian guy. Oh, the wrong the wrong shape. Yeah, it had the Indian guy and like the wiggly knife from the doctor.

 

Carolyn Daughters  14:08

I feel less intrigued about the story. I’m sorry about the mystery and more intrigued in the story and the character. So I’m not aching to know how they’re going to get into that room, or how the murderer got into the room. Or, although I have been taken by surprise at times. I feel like it’s a quirky subgenre where you’ve got to like, you almost have to have a willing suspension of disbelief in order to really engage in this particular subgenre. I don’t know. What do you think?

 

Sarah Harrison  14:42

I just like got really off. I’m hearing you and I’m also like, oh, the one by Israel Zangwill that was the one with the police guy stabbed the guy. That was the other locked room mystery. Yeah. I think the mesmerism one was one but I think I Think it was not Do you think it wasn’t? I was wrong there. But it’s the one where the police guy ran in and stabbed the guy because he was trying to make the perfect crime.

 

Carolyn Daughters  15:09

I don’t know why we’re drawing a blank on the name of because

 

Sarah Harrison  15:11

it was over a year ago. on it. Yeah.

 

Carolyn Daughters  15:17

Yeah, I mean, what do you think about this, this form? I saw

 

Sarah Harrison  15:22

I was kind of interested in that. It starts out as the only mystery, right? We started with murders in the Rue Morgue. Sure. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t a genre, or sub-genre at the time, it was like the world’s first mystery, right. And now it’s been kind of repeated enough in a number of distinct ways. I mean, I like it. It’s, it reminded me what you were saying that of the interview we recently did with Carter. Right, Carter Wilson? Yeah, Carter Wilson. Um, so if you haven’t heard that listeners, go back and listen to the one that Carter Wilson, but he kind of talks about putting his characters in a situation. And then thinking about what would the next move be how the situation, right? And I kind of feel that way, but the luxury mystery is like, how, how could I do this? How can I make it up uniquely, and I feel like the ones we have selected? I don’t know about the genre as a whole. But I feel like the ones we selected were in they were in genius. Yeah, it was the ring of time.

 

Carolyn Daughters  16:29

Okay, we’ve just spoiled another we’re not gonna even though it was the one that was a past one we’re allowed to write or you could be any of the store.

 

Sarah Harrison  16:36

It was the cop, and the guy was actually alive. Okay, here we go. Same with the wrong shape. He was actually alive. And so on this one, it’s like, oh, actually killed guys the criminal. Yeah. And so I, they seem to get out of it in clever ways. I don’t know if I read 100 of them, like the author clearly has. So

 

Carolyn Daughters  17:01

I think these three stories are. We chose them well because I think that they are great examples of the form. But there are probably a lot of derivative examples that we could have read where Oh, been there seen that read that already? That sort of thing. All three of these felt new to me. And which is what I appreciated about them. I

 

Sarah Harrison  17:26

almost wondered and kind of reading his lecture like, Oh, should we have read all of these? That he’s kind of so he has like a seven part.

 

Carolyn Daughters  17:35

But then we have a different podcast, which is locked room. And I think you could do a podcast on the locked room mystery as a subgenre. You could all it could all be locked rooms.

 

Sarah Harrison  17:44

I guess once those paths sort of start diverging, you can always sort of plumb the depths of how did a particular path develop?

 

Carolyn Daughters  17:54

Yeah. So in a book called The Story of classic crime and 100 bucks, it’s from 2017, Martin Edwards, called the chapter with the history of the locked room mysteries, an extraordinary, extraordinarily bold move. And so I think we both agree that that was

 

Sarah Harrison  18:15

the big bold mystery up and thrown it in the notes.

 

Carolyn Daughters  18:20

God, we’re good. And we’re also terrible because we couldn’t remember it live. But both of those things are amazing and terrible. So I think you and I both agree that the chapter in The Three Coffins is really a bold move. is

 

Sarah Harrison  18:36

very funny. I would say it was probably my least favorite. Okay, yeah, I didn’t love reading it. I’m kinda like it. Let’s get back to the action police. Right. But I thought it was cute. I thought it was clever. Yeah. And then I thought they actual explanation at the end was cute and clever. Like, wow, that’s a good one.

 

Carolyn Daughters  19:01

It’s a riddle. We, in our notes said the novel is a riddle. We hear of this guy who shows up to this secret society meeting, and basically throws out a bunch of strange sentences that the secret society members are having trouble parsing, what is going on here, who is this guy? But Professor Grimaud seems to understand what’s going on. And so from the outset, we are in this position as readers are trying to figure out like, what, what is going on who is this guy who showed up to the secret society? Is the secret society itself key to this mystery? The guy basically suggests there could be a murderer. So will there be a murderer if there’s a murderer when will it happen? How will it happen? Will professor Grimaud protect himself from this murder? And all of those loose ends I think are really intriguing. They worked for me as I was reading, like trying to figure out what was going on. And for the longest time, I thought the secret society must have something to do with the murder, which, spoiler alert, it does not.

 

Sarah Harrison  20:26

they were kind of treating all the witnesses so cavalierly, like one of the investigators is friends with one of the suspects. And they just liked this aspect, hang out in their conversations and hear all of their reasoning. And I was like, what? Not? So at first, when they did that, I thought it’s gotta be that guy.

 

Carolyn Daughters  20:47

It wasn’t. And so the two puzzles in this book are the two things we’ve got to work out. One, somebody kills Professor Grimaud in a locked room, and then the murderer somehow disappears. Two, the murderer is killed in the middle of the street, with watchers at either end of the street and no one witnesses the murder. No footprints in the snow. There’s no second person visible. So that’s where this title of I think the Hollow Man is coming from as he is. So he’s, he’s invisible. Yeah, he’s empty. He can kind of go in and out of walls, he can be on a snow filled Street and not leave a footprint. He is in fact, weightless and airy.

 

Sarah Harrison  21:42

And they saw him come, but he had like a paper mache head on.

 

Carolyn Daughters  21:47

To Professor Grimaud’s house. Yeah. And so these are really intriguing riddles in this locked room mystery. And by the end of the book, it’s actually worked out in a way where, okay, I kind of get this. I think I got it about 85%. And then I had about 15% more questions. Did you feel it was a satisfying resolution?

 

Sarah Harrison  22:12

I felt it was a clever resolution. And the in the end, I felt it made sense. Although a lot of the peripheral stuff going on. I was like, what though? I wrote a note to myself, like it made a lot of sense. And my initial feeling. So The Three Coffins maybe we should explain the kind of refer to these three brothers. And the guy that breaks the crashes, the secret society. He’s one of the brothers. His name’s flay. Grimaud. He’s one of the brothers. And then they spend a lot of time focusing on the third brother, and what’s up with that third brother? And is the third brother, the one that’s really going around killing everybody? You find out, about midway through that Grimaud tried to kill his two brothers. And so I thought, Okay, makes sense. He tried to kill them. They have a motive for murdering him. But did you find out at the end, it’s like, oh, he tried to kill them. Therefore, he has the motive to keep them dead. Yes. Yeah. I think that makes total sense, psychologically, but it was. It was unexpected, right? So I thought it was, I thought it was clever. I’m not sure how to use the word satisfying, because there was so much stuff going on the sidelines. And I do feel like this book lives within a canon of like, Dr. Gideon Fell mysteries. And so there was a lot of references to things that I’m just like, there’s almost the assumption that I know Dr. Fell. And I don’t at this point know him.

 

Carolyn Daughters  23:54

Although he’s not on the page all that much, which is interesting.

 

Sarah Harrison  23:58

They refer to as habits. And so I’m thinking like, what, what else be 100 other books, right? Where I’ve gotten to know this guy a little bit more.

 

Carolyn Daughters  24:05

That the thing that that I noticed most with myself with the locked room mystery, in particular, The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill. And The Three Coffins by John Dixon Carr, I make assumptions about what’s going on in the room. And those assumptions then influence the direction of thought. So this is what’s possible. And this is what’s not based on what I think has happened in the room. Method number seven, from the lecture chapter in this book, is the victim is presumed to be dead long before he really is. So there are assumptions in the big bone mystery, we assume that the man who’s murdered has been murdered, and they burst into the room and discover the murdered man. It doesn’t occur to us that this might have happened in a different order, the man was not murdered until people burst in, burst into the room. And then with The Three Coffins my assumption is that somebody entered the room and killed Dr. Grimm mode. But in reality, he entered the room already injured. Yeah.

 

Sarah Harrison  25:22

Yeah, I would say like, back to your previous question like the gist of what happened. I feel like that’s cool and uncomfortable. There were a lot of details around, I remember about like, the giant mirror and the reflections, and all of that sort of stuff that I’m like everyone that completely following this.

 

Carolyn Daughters  25:44

I want it. So there’s this mirror that the man who Dr. Grimaud is going to enter the room as if he were his own adversary. And he’s disguised in a Guy Fawkes mask. And he has a mirror set up in the room such that a man sitting at the other end of the hallway can see the reflection in the mirror. Okay, so he’s got this mirror set up. And then he entered the room locks the door, and presumably two of them are in the room battling it out. There’s really only one person in the room. Where does the mirror go? What

 

Sarah Harrison  26:29

they didn’t ice, they slipped it up into the chimney,

 

Carolyn Daughters  26:33

but a person couldn’t fit into the chimney. How does this mirror fit in the chimney? A

 

Sarah Harrison  26:37

person maybe it was just long and skinny. That person couldn’t fix it was too skinny.

 

Carolyn Daughters  26:41

I need to see this mirror. The

 

Sarah Harrison  26:43

chimney even tried to draw diagrams. But then that was the whole thing. Like potentially he would have been okay, but then he hemorrhaged himself like shoving this giant mirror up a chimney? Yes. Yeah. And like trying to burn all his paper mache clothes and mass. Yeah. And then that that didn’t.

 

Carolyn Daughters  27:06

Let’s talk. Dr. Gideon Fell for a second because it relates to an author that we both love, G.K. Chesterton?

 

Sarah Harrison  27:15

Oh, yeah. So that’s funny.

 

Carolyn Daughters  27:18

Dr. Gideon Fell in this locked room mystery is said to have been modeled on G.K. Chesterton physic physically and his personality. John Dixon Carr really admired G.K. Chesterton. Fell is eccentric, brilliant, exacting in his methods, he saw himself as a model of tact. And this note here, very often this tack resembled a load of bricks coming through a skylight, but his utter conviction that he was doing the right thing. His basket nature is complete naivete had an effect on the most skilled tact that the most skilled tact could never have produced. It was as though he had slid down on the bricks himself to offer sympathy or shake hands, people instantly began to tell him all about themselves. So is this how you saw Dr. Fell? Does he fit this particular description?

 

Sarah Harrison  28:12

think that kind of relates to my feeling that I wasn’t getting the full picture, that I would need to read a number of the other books to get a more rounded picture, right? Of doctor. Now, when you have that description, that I can, in fact, envision GK Chesterton being like that. Yeah. Like, just I like the description of sliding down on the bricks himself to being sympathetic. I could definitely see. That’s how Father Brown comes across. But having just read the book, I would never think that. He seems so odd. It couldn’t always follow him. It’s funny to think that that is what GK Chesterton was like, Yeah, way off in the field, hard to follow, but then kind of coming up with a brilliant solution.

 

Carolyn Daughters  29:07

I described it as sort of off-putting.

 

Sarah Harrison  29:10

Oh, really?

 

Carolyn Daughters  29:10

Yeah, because he has this tendency. When say they’re interviewing a suspect, who this is an English country house mystery. So the suspects are all in the house. And he’s interviewing one of the suspects and he gets up and walks around the room kind of thing or gets up and stares at the fireplace while someone’s talking. It’s to me it would be disconcerting to be interviewed by such a person. And it reminded me there’s one of the Law and Order Criminal Intent series, where the detective Gordon something is like this. He throws you off by his expressions but gets up and walks around. He leans forward and stares into your face. He does He’s things that really throw people off. But he I don’t even think that’s why he’s doing he’s doing because that’s who he is. And Gideon Fell the detective felt that way to me just a little off. But in an interesting way.

 

Sarah Harrison  30:19

He was not like a rude guy. I mean, that directly rude. Yes, you can interpret some of that. Yeah, putting behavior.

 

Carolyn Daughters  30:30

And so and then there are these two interesting quotes that I have here. So in Murder on the Orient Express, which we did two episodes on last year, published in 1934. It’s very difficult for a time for Hercule Poirot to know who committed the murder. And we don’t want to spoil that in a different episodes, who will say listen to those episodes, read the book. But he does conclude at some point the impossible cannot have happened. Therefore, the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances. And then I was searching for this phrase and came up with from 1890 Sherlock Holmes from the Sign of Four. It would seem pretty sound to say, to exclude the impossible, and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. So it feels like Christie is basically borrowing the Sherlock Holmes. But it’s this idea in this book of, well, this can’t possibly have happened. There’s no such thing as a hollow man. But the impossible cannot have happened. Therefore, it must be possible. So we’ve got to figure out what actually could have happened. So, no. But G.K. Chesterton, if you’ve not listened to these episodes, The Innocence of Father Brown was probably the book that we loved the most in 2023.

 

Sarah Harrison  32:02

That was January, I think, 2023. And it has come up so many times in so many different ways as either similar or a foil to or in some way relatable, right to the books that we’re reading. And it includes a story that is a locked room mystery.

 

Carolyn Daughters  32:18

So Sarah, what do you think of this supernatural club in The Three Coffins?

 

Sarah Harrison  32:24

It was kind of kooky. It just seemed like and what was funny too, was Professor Groucho was always proving it to be not supernatural. Sure, like that was his shtick was like, oh, no, no, I’m gonna disprove that. Right. Which I thought was kind of bizarre. I thought it was strange that he became like a professor of something like us. He’s teaching. And he has this hobby of the supernatural and disproving the supernatural. And I don’t know, I guess, every club is kind of brought together by a common interest.

 

Carolyn Daughters  33:02

And in this case, some quirky interests. Yeah,

 

Sarah Harrison  33:06

So I guess it’s kind of like a book club.

 

Carolyn Daughters  33:09

They meet several times a week, I thought was just once a week. I thought it was a cup. Well, you may be right. Yeah, I felt I felt like it was. It’s at least once a week, but it might be two or three times a week. I thought it was interesting that this same group of like five or six guys keep coming back together.

 

Sarah Harrison  33:26

I think they were more buddies. Like an official club of some kind. But it seemed like buddies getting around to drink a beer and talk about their supernatural right. Interests. Right.

 

Carolyn Daughters  33:41

So there’s a lot in this book that is interesting that readers would probably have difficulty having figured out on their own, for example, the past life of Professor Grimaud, I would have been, I would have been hard pressed without it being on the page to have figured that out.

 

Sarah Harrison  33:58

Yeah. The connections that Dr. Phil is making. I didn’t think there was any possible way that a reader could have figured out like, oh, this book show that he was from Transylvania. Yes. And yeah, that was there was a lot of he named this particular. Even the guys in the book didn’t know like the three the three towers or something like that. Yeah. The name of this particular Transylvanian prison Transylvanian prison. Yeah, and he happened to know that and so he kind of named dropped it, but nobody else in the room knew what that was. So you have to have some extra knowledge.

 

Carolyn Daughters  34:39

I started reading I was like, when did Hungary become a country or when what, what is the history of this even this region? Is Hungary the country I’m even thinking of?

 

Sarah Harrison  34:49

I’m not sure I was. I was woefully uneducated as I read this locked room mystery.

 

Carolyn Daughters  34:53

Romania. Thank you. My goodness. I’ve been to Hungary and I’m like, I’ve not been to Transylvania …

 

Sarah Harrison  34:59

Like the whole history of the Transylvanian region, I just I don’t know a lot more than Dracula. I’ll be honest. And he was like a political prisoner. Well, he said he was a political party. He wasn’t right.

 

Carolyn Daughters  35:12

He was a Flim Flam artist.

 

Sarah Harrison  35:14

He was a thief, yeah.

 

Carolyn Daughters  35:20

So there’s a lot of that history thrown in there. And turns out, Madam Dumont is his former, I guess, girlfriend or something? Mother of his daughter.

 

Sarah Harrison  35:33

She was a wild character.

 

Carolyn Daughters  35:35

I struggled with her mother of Rosette. Yeah, she was a strange one.

 

Sarah Harrison  35:39

She’s incredibly loyal, even though he never married her.

 

Carolyn Daughters  35:42

Yeah. Why was she so loyal?

 

Sarah Harrison  35:44

No, she seemed to have this kind of love that gloried in servitude. Honestly. Yeah,

 

Carolyn Daughters  35:49

she is actually a servant in the house. Yeah, she’s like, I would obey him.

 

Sarah Harrison  35:53

She got him out of Transylvania, like you can depend on her. So she did. They slept together. At some point. She had his baby. But then, instead of marrying her and making it all illegitimate affair,

 

Carolyn Daughters  36:08

he pretended the mother die, and kept her as a servant

 

Sarah Harrison  36:11

and kept her as a servant. And so she watches her daughter grow up from a servant perspective, which is crazy who’s doing that? And then still, at the end, she tries to like, help him out and be his like inside Ryerson. Right? This Confederate, as they call it in the magic industry.

 

Carolyn Daughters  36:30

And she says at one point, if someone does you were hurt, good. You lie and wait for him and kill him. Then your friends go to court and swear you were somewhere else? And I was wondering, do we have friends like this?

 

Sarah Harrison  36:43

She’s that kind of friend.

 

Carolyn Daughters  36:46

The Do or Die friend. Like, no matter what, I’ll testify for you. I’ll make up stories for you. I’ll protect you. Wow, she’s seriously extreme.

 

Sarah Harrison  36:57

She is a like being a servant. And raising your daughter for me was just the end of it. I was like, no, no, no, you better just marry me. That’s a nice, yeah. Yeah, I did everything in the world for you and you’re not even gonna marry me.

 

Carolyn Daughters  37:12

Yeah. And then Rosa, it’s not a cakewalk either. She’s a complicated, complicated.

 

Sarah Harrison  37:19

She’s kind of a jerk. She kind of has her feel like inner conflicts she’s working through.

 

Carolyn Daughters  37:29

Yeah, so in this locked room mystery she studies at London University and she’s against the tyranny of man. She’s on some debating team about focused on. She recently did debate focused on women’s rights in the world. And one of the characters calls her a strong feminist and, and she argues that for an ideal existence, women need less talking and more copulation.

 

Sarah Harrison  37:53

She’s an interesting feminist. Little Firebrand.

 

Carolyn Daughters  37:59

And then one detective, Hadley, says she has the old Nick in her, which is the devil. She wants to master once a master in both senses she and Mangan, her boyfriend will never hit it off until he has sense enough to punch her in the head or take her own advice.

 

Sarah Harrison  38:14

Yeah, there was a lot of talk of punching rosette. Yeah, there was.

 

Carolyn Daughters  38:18

There were a couple other characters who wanted to punch her too, right? Yeah,

 

Sarah Harrison  38:21

yeah, it was. It was Dorothy Rampaul. Dorothy Rampell said she needed to be punched. And she told her husband, she’s like, if I acted like that, and you didn’t punch me. I couldn’t respect either of us. Wow. Awesome. To that extent. Oh, yeah. I wrote it down. If I ever treated you the way she treats Boyd Mangan, and you hadn’t landed me a sock under the jaw. I never spoke. I’d never have spoken to either of us again. Wow. If you see my meaning, like, yeah, you weren’t beating around.

 

Carolyn Daughters  38:51

Now. That was pretty clear. Yeah. I think I think we saw it. Yeah, there

 

Sarah Harrison  38:55

was a lot of the punch and talk. Yeah. And I couldn’t exactly figure out what rosette was saying that was so obnoxious or how she was treating. Ted didn’t seem to know either. Like, I don’t think she was really doing anything to Megan. Right. Oh,

 

Carolyn Daughters  39:09

she was, I guess, seeing someone else or sleeping around on him.

 

Sarah Harrison  39:15

Not on the interview. And not necessarily in real life.

 

Carolyn Daughters  39:21

I don’t know. I think it was implied that she had something going on with Jerome Burnaby.

 

Sarah Harrison  39:25

Well, he was definitely trying to woo her. But she wasn’t I didn’t get the sense. She was a faithful taking up with girls run down. Yeah, I don’t know. I just thought that she was being mouthy. And they didn’t like …

 

Carolyn Daughters  39:40

She seems very sullen. Okay, so this guy is murdered in this locked room mystery. And it’s her father and various other people are interviewed in the house and the characters in this book and also half the characters and all the books we read, are just pure out and out sullen when the police interviewed, the police were like, Hey, so what did you talk by the events of this night, and that whoever the character is, in this case, rosette is just completely put upon. Just fine. I will tell just very snotty about it. I always think that’s so interesting. I’m like, why wouldn’t you just answer the questions to try to find the killer?

 

Sarah Harrison  40:15

I do feel like in this book and a lot of the books we’ve read, there are some social expectations that I’m just not picking up on. Like there was some social things that rosette must have been really running roughshod over kind. I’m not picking up on it. And I’ve noticed like a lot of the books that nobody wants to talk to the police, no doubt of the books we’ve read, like, it is, like intrusion into privacy is a really big deal. Right. I think that lasted a long time. I can’t remember if you’ve ever seen The Philadelphia Story?

 

Carolyn Daughters  40:51

Oh, Katharine Hepburn. Yes. Yeah. And

 

Sarah Harrison  40:56

Cary Grant, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart Oh, Jimmy Stewart. On one hand, a fantastic movie and the other hand, this bizarre look into the culture of the time. But one of the things I remember from that movie is like not wanting it like reporters at the wedding. Absolutely not. Oh, wait, are you even saying that’s crazy? Just this very, like, we want our privacy. This? Everything is very private. Family life is very private. Yeah. Since I No wonder if that’s kind of related to the way we see people never wanting to talk to

 

Carolyn Daughters  41:33

the yeah, they’re always so angry about it. Yeah,

 

Sarah Harrison  41:37

I don’t know. I felt like we sort of just like, yes, all of that up. Somebody killed my dad. You’re really taken a long time to make any progress. But now they’re just like, How dare you talk to me? How dare I’m one of the suspects.

 

Carolyn Daughters  41:53

How dare I provide information that might lead to my father’s killer?

 

Sarah Harrison  41:56

I am a gentleman. I shouldn’t have to answer a question. Yeah, different times.

 

Carolyn Daughters  42:04

There’s a reference in this book too. Why am I drawing? even know what we’ve read? Our last book last year.

 

Sarah Harrison  42:20

The Nine Tailors. Oh, my goodness.

 

Carolyn Daughters  42:22

Thank you so much. The Nine Tailors there’s a reference to it in this book. Oh, yeah. Where was that? A man named O’Rourke, who is an illusionist explains that most illusions are worked with the aid of a Confederate. We learn the church bells are key to the story. Where’s the quote, there’s an actual quote …

 

Sarah Harrison  42:47

I mentioned Fenchurch St. Paul. Yeah. I didn’t quite I thought maybe it was just coincidental.

 

Carolyn Daughters  42:55

No, Dr. Gideon Fell says, “I do not care to care to hear the hum of everyday life. I much prefer to listen to the chuckle of the great Hanaud [who is a fictional French detective] or the deadly bells of Fenchurch St. Paul. That’s a pretty cool reference to a book, mind you, that was published, I think, the same year 1934.

 

Sarah Harrison  43:17

Really? Awesome. We made a lot of progress.

 

Carolyn Daughters  43:22

Books published in that same year are referring to each other. This locked room mystery refers to The Nine Tailors. I need to do a better job of remembering the names of books.

 

Sarah Harrison  43:32

I have a hard time remembering names in general. That’s why we have notes.

 

Carolyn Daughters  43:38

But now I need a new set of notes, which are these are the books we’ve read. So now, we’re not going to have like 20 pieces of paper in front of us. We’re gonna have like, 30.

 

Sarah Harrison  43:48

Yeah, we’ll just have a book about the books.

 

Carolyn Daughters  43:52

And then I’m gonna be like, I don’t know how to find the page number I need to turn to get this information

 

Sarah Harrison  43:55

The podcast is just gonna sound like papers rustling all the time.

 

Carolyn Daughters  43:59

For like an hour. So, the illusionist introduces this truism, I guess in the world of magic magicians, please feel free to educate us. Please, if you’re a magician, let us know. Oh, my God, you will totally get a sticker. I love magic. You don’t even need to weigh in on anything. Just write us and say I’m a magician.

 

Sarah Harrison  44:22

Do come to a trick. Yes, exactly. I love magic so much.

 

Carolyn Daughters  44:28

And there’s often an accomplice, there’s somebody else who enables this trick to be completed or to be done. And so that tipped me off to the idea that somebody in the house had to be helping. Say it was Grimaud there had to be a second person in the house helping this happen. It just had to. So all along before I suspected Professor Grimaud I suspected Madame du monde, but

 

Sarah Harrison  44:55

but my brain went in the other direction someone in the house trying to kill Grimaud. Not someone in the house helping Grimaud kill his brother again. So that that twist still kind of got me there killing his brother. The Confederate for doing what?

 

Carolyn Daughters  45:18

I don’t love the magic in this locked room mystery. What do you love about magic? Don’t say the magic …

 

Sarah Harrison  45:25

Everything. I remember it. So I grew up watching like David Copperfield specials on TV, you always do those number of tricks. So I lived in Indianapolis. And there was this restaurant called illusions, which was like the best, fanciest restaurant you could possibly go to, and they had a magician would come to your table and do magic while you ate.

 

Carolyn Daughters  45:50

This would be my nightmare.

 

Sarah Harrison  45:52

Really? You don’t love magic?

 

Carolyn Daughters  45:54

I don’t want anybody doing magic at my table. I don’t want to clown at my table. I don’t want to lie on either ends of the spectrum. I also don’t want a person with a violin at my table.

 

Sarah Harrison  46:05

Those are fun, too. There’s a place in Denver has like a little like a Mexican band that comes to your table. Really? Yeah, that’s really cool. I can’t remember it’s been years since I’ve been there. But I’ll look it up. And I’ll put it folks, if you haven’t noticed, if you haven’t been following us on the social media, then you didn’t know. But we now have an Amazon store.

 

Carolyn Daughters  46:29

So I just really found this out. I had heard it from Sarah. But I just found it out myself like this morning by digging around a lot

 

Sarah Harrison  46:37

of the stuff that we talked about in episodes, I will be including in the not the restaurant, obviously it’s on Amazon. But I’ll find I’ll find it out if I can. I’ll put it in the show notes. But also the store will be in the show notes. So if we refer to anything that I can lay hands on, yeah, we’ll connect all of those if you’re a magician, oh my god, it’s gotta put some magic stuff in the store.

 

Carolyn Daughters  46:59

This was my thing with magic. I think it’s fine.

 

Sarah Harrison  47:03

already. I don’t understand you.

 

Carolyn Daughters  47:07

It’s fine. I just, I’m always I don’t go in with the willing suspension of disbelief. So I go in knowing that this is a trick. And then it’s not real. And I just, I don’t know not. So here’s,

 

Sarah Harrison  47:22

I knew we are different people, but only now have I realized how different

 

Carolyn Daughters  47:27

It’s true. We are different people. So years ago in Sacramento, at the State Fair, which is an amazing State Fair. They have this sort of hypnotist mesmerist guy, right? And he randomly picks people from the audience and the people from the audience go and he waves his hands in front of their face and talks to them and snaps or whatever he does, and they go out and he’s able to like, manipulate these people in interesting ways or get them to answer particular questions or it’s, that’s the closest I’ve gotten to thinking is this real? Is this actually happening? Maybe this is happening?

 

Sarah Harrison  48:11

Well, but it’s not happening in this locked room mystery. So that’s so interesting that Dr. Fell — or was it Flay’s partner? That brings it up so the fleas partner fleas apparently a really good magician amongst magicians. Yeah, it’s really good. So quite a little the magic elements here. But they talk about the disappointment. The audience our audience members go in and they know it’s a trick they know Magic’s not real. But once they figure out how the check is done, they’re like so deeply disappointed. Like they really thought they just really wanted it to be real even though it’s I don’t believe in magic.

 

Carolyn Daughters  48:51

I think magic is clever. I think on some level. I’m I don’t I’m working through this live which is appropriate on a podcast. You guys want to see the wheels turning in my brain. I’m not interested in clever I’m less interested in so puns, clever puns, not interested. I mean No, I’m

 

Sarah Harrison  49:10

not a neat supplement. I’m not a Python person.

 

Carolyn Daughters  49:13

Michael’s punny? I’m not punny. And I think tricks are clever like, wow, that’s super smart. Cool and good for you. But I’m not engaged in clever.

 

Sarah Harrison  49:26

Oh my goodness. They’re still wild. I love them. With the last magic show I went to, Elitch Gardens, has a magic thing. I got to go. Here in Denver. Elitch Gardens. If you don’t want to ride a ride, they have a magic performance. And it is so loud. It is so danc-y and it’s kind of wonderful and the magic is fun too. We tried to take Murray to it as baby, but it was too loud for him. So he started screaming and we had to remove him.

 

Carolyn Daughters  49:57

I would be with Murray.

 

Sarah Harrison  50:00

Probably me and Patience will have to go. She’s gonna be my magic buddy.

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:05

Patience, whether you want to or not, you are going to be mommy’s future magic buddy

 

Sarah Harrison  50:15

I love it. Something wild happens in front of you and I can’t figure it out. I don’t know. It looks great. I love it.

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:25

Not this is not to say I’m not entertained by it or that I hate it. None of that.

 

Sarah Harrison  50:29

I don’t love a good card trick. Yeah, my dad does couple good card tricks. And I’m just like, blown away. I don’t know, maybe I’m a simple

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:37

Hi. No, I feel like I should be more excited about this.

 

Sarah Harrison  50:41

you should gotta go to a magic show together and see if we can’t pump you up.

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:46

Oh, that’d be great.

 

Sarah Harrison  50:48

She’s saying that completely sincerely. Fine. I’m gonna find one. We’re gonna go to Tonic & Toxin. Oh, my

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:56

gosh, I’m out of town. That

 

Sarah Harrison  50:57

was magic.

 

Carolyn Daughters  50:58

I’m not around that weekend.

 

Sarah Harrison  51:02

to hijack you to magic show. But that was all there was a couple. I mean, besides the locked room mystery, there was a supernatural element. The magical elements? Yeah, I don’t know. Do you want to talk about Burnaby layer? Sure. We don’t have a lot of time left in our episode, folks. But that was weird.

 

Carolyn Daughters  51:22

It was.

 

Sarah Harrison  51:24

It was weird. And it’s painting. So the painting too, I would say that was kind of a loose end for me. Where grandma got this painting from Burnaby. And it was three graves. Yeah. And it turns out, Grimaud thinks actually Burnaby had found something out about him. But it seems to have turned out to be totally random, right? He just randomly played it three grades. And I don’t I wasn’t actually following why Grimaud bought it. Like how it played into everything. Oh, there was a reason. It was something I think to do with the whole mir section. And I was really happy to just walk through this person was always like, okay, he did this wild painting. It was just happenstance.

 

Carolyn Daughters  52:09

Right. So I think it was supposed to signal something like, Well, I’m superstitious, and I’m gonna bring this painting into the room or something. But then the painting was extremely lightweight. But the mirror was secretly carried in there. Right?

 

Sarah Harrison  52:23

He carried the mirror and inside the painting. That’s right. So

 

Carolyn Daughters  52:26

then this very heavy thing to move. Well, why is it so heavy to move? Why would it take two men to move it? So I think it was a ruse to get the mixture here. Right?

 

Sarah Harrison  52:34

I forgotten that, folks, one of my goals for 2023 24 Because that’s the year we’re in. It should actually

 

Carolyn Daughters  52:41

no, I want to start setting goals for last year

 

Sarah Harrison  52:48

is to read ahead. And so in reading ahead, that means it’s been a couple books since I read this book. Yeah. And so I think sometimes that’s a little bit. There’s a lot of advantages to reading ahead. But the reason I haven’t done it up until now is because I love to have the book. completely fresh in my mind. Yeah. But when that’s the case, a lot of stuff that goes on done that I should probably should have done if I’d read the book earlier.

 

Carolyn Daughters  53:13

Right. But his secret lair? Yes.

 

Sarah Harrison  53:17

Where he tries to invite his lady love and not show up. He tries to invite her and then burn her.

 

Carolyn Daughters  53:27

Burn her? Well, metaphorically. Yeah, okay, just to clarify, because

 

Sarah Harrison  53:31

she’s not setting on fire. He tries to invite her and then not be there to play psychological games with her.

 

Carolyn Daughters  53:40

Dr. Phil says to the detective Hadley, when you were a kid, didn’t you ever wish for a secret passage in your house and pretend some hole in the attic was a secret passage and go crawling through it with a candle and nearly burn the place down? Did you ever play the great detective and wish for a secret lair and some secret street where you could pursue your deadly studies under an assumed name? Yeah, I mean, I never you did have a mission unit attend? I did have I did have a detective agency when I was a child. It was the CarMich Detective Agency.

 

Sarah Harrison  54:13

Always wanted a tree house but I do feel like homes must not be as interesting as they used to be.

 

Carolyn Daughters  54:20

Yeah, I guess Carmich is a portmanteau of Carolyn and Michele, my sister Michele. So we call it care mesh and she at one point wanted to call it miss care, but I told her that would be stupid. This sounds like sounds really dumb. Like totally be care mash.

 

Sarah Harrison  54:35

Nobody’s gonna hire Michcar.

 

Carolyn Daughters  54:40

So we’ve all like played these sorts of games. Well, maybe Hadley the detective hasn’t I don’t know. But Burnaby has this whole secret lair, which is like this kind of spooky, weird place.

 

Sarah Harrison  54:51

He apparently has enough expendable income to just return an extra apartment to make his little detective game. Yeah, she was Wild think about all that free time and free money.

 

Carolyn Daughters  55:04

Too much time to kill, I guess, and too much money to spend.

 

Sarah Harrison  55:09

Because it’s not bad. Not sure that’s a choice. I’d make interesting problems.

 

Carolyn Daughters  55:13

We don’t have those problems.

 

Sarah Harrison  55:15

No. Bertha overall, I thought was a really interesting book. Short,

 

Carolyn Daughters  55:21

too. It’s a quick read. It’s interesting. It will walk you through the whole history of locked room mystery, though it does not mention Poe.

 

Sarah Harrison  55:29

Yeah, that was I thought that was a little weird. A little weird.

 

Carolyn Daughters  55:33

Yeah. I was like, where’s Poland here? Where’s the murders in the Rue Morgue.

 

Sarah Harrison  55:38

I mentioned I thought I mentioned Paul. But it didn’t mention Rue Morgue. Oh, it’s post. That’s something else. No, but it’s pretty well. Now I’m like, talking slow because I’m flipping through my copy right now.

 

Carolyn Daughters  55:54

Live on the podcast, which is how we do live. Live.

 

Sarah Harrison  55:58

We’re always looking forwarding, recording live, but there’ll be a few weeks for it here.

 

Carolyn Daughters  56:02

Yeah. Would you be interested in reading our next book summary of our next book? Let’s

 

Sarah Harrison  56:08

Do it. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout here’s the danger of reading ahead. I’m like no, we already read that one.

 

Carolyn Daughters  56:19

Also this is a big landmark book because we are moving from 1934 all the way to 1935.

 

Sarah Harrison  56:26

Yeah, I did just finish it up.

 

Carolyn Daughters  56:28

That’s a fun one. It’s a really fun one.

 

Sarah Harrison  56:30

I enjoyed it. Published in 1935. This novel introduces the brilliant witty and eccentric detective neuro wolf in his wisecracking sidekick, Archie Goodwin, when a sinister secret society Say that three times fast seeks revenge. Nero Wolfe’s genius is put to the test in this thrilling page turner. Learn more about the League of Frightened Men and all our 2024 book club selections at teatonicandtoxin.com and share your thoughts on a website or on Facebook and Instagram @teatonicandtoxin. Also be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you never miss an episode also give it a five-star rating check out the Amazon store and check out our YouTube channel.

 

Carolyn Daughters  57:19

We’ve got stuff modify has some sort of poll that you questions we’ve got stuff brewing. Basically, take Monday off work. Catch up on this locked room mystery and then start on Nero Wolfe

 

You can learn about all our 2024 book selections at teatonicandtoxin.com. You can also comment, weigh in, and follow along with what we’re reading and discussing @teatonicandtoxin on Instagram and Facebook. And you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Sarah Harrison  57:34

And until next time, please stay mysterious.

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