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Among all the locked-room crime mysteries, better known as the “howdunits,” the 1935 crime novel, The Three Coffins, also published under the U.K. title The Hollow Man, is considered to be the apex of the genre and writer John Dickson Carr its master. The story follows the murders of professor Dr. Charles Girmaud, who was killed in a room that was closed from within, and Pierre Fley, an illusionist and one of Girmaud’s main adversaries. But because the killer left no tracks or clues, rendering both murders nearly impossible to execute, it is up to surly detective Dr. Gideon Fell to figure out how these murders could have happened. Carr’s atmospheric writing and meticulous plotting—along with the groundbreaking “locked-room lecture” in chapter 17—has earned the book its reputation as a modern mystery classic. While The Three Coffins is widely regarded as Carr’s masterpiece, his massive body of work will keep readers busy: Carr wrote 120 books in his lifetime and hundreds of short stories, making him one of the most prolific writers of the Golden Age of Mysteries. —Rachel Sonis

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