The Perfect Mystery
Make yourself a cup of coffee. Find yourself a quiet room. Close the door. Four walls, a door, a ceiling and floor - a perfect place to relax? Perhaps not - a closed room is one of the most popular places for fictional murders to take place. In his book, Locked Room Murders and Other Impossible Crimes, Robert Adey lists more than 2,000 examples of terrible crimes quoted from books, movies, TV shows and comic books.Here are a couple of typical examples.
John Dickson Carr’s book Three Coffins opens with a direct challenge to the reader. Themurderer is seen entering the room with his victim, but when witnesses break down the locked door, they find the victim dying and no trace of the murderer.
In her bookAnd Then There Were NoneAgatha Christie places ten people on an island. Instead of a locked room the characters discover that there is no way off the island. They are all murdered one by one and you must figure out how the murders are happening and who the murderer is.
Adey’s bookcontains page after page describing bodies found dead in castles, lighthouses, submarines and deserted houses. In all the examples, it is unimaginable that someone has killed the victim - and yet all the victims are stone dead.
Locked room mysteries have been popular for over 100 years (and that’s not including the story of Bel and the Dragon in the Old Testament. In this story, a stone idol supposedly eats food offerings in a sealed room. The hero, Daniel, exposes the secret entrance used by the priests who take the food for themselves.)Impossible crimes were popularized by brilliant fictional amateur detectives, such as Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle)and Father Brown (G.K. Chesterton). More recently the genre has become very popular in France and here in Japan, Soji Shimada’s (The Tokyo Zodiac Murders) and some episodes of Detective Conanalso revolve around an impossible crime. With this in mind I wondered if there was room for a locked mystery in the classroom. And to start you thinking on this possibility, try out the challenge below. All you have to do is match the solution to a mystery with the name of the novel it featured in. (Answersunderneath)