Gideon Fell

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Self-portrait of Chesterton. Even Dr. Fell is described as a corpulent man with a moustache who wears a cape and a shovel hat and walks with a cane.

Dr Gideon Fell is a fictional character created by John Dickson Carr.[1] He is the protagonist of 23 novels from 1933 through to 1967 as well as a few short stories. Carr was an American who lived most of his adult life in England; Dr. Fell is an Englishman who lives in the London suburbs.

Dr. Fell is described as a corpulent man with a moustache who wears a cape and a shovel hat and walks with the aid of two canes.[1] He is frequently described as bringing the spirit of Father Christmas or Old King Cole into a room.[1] In his early appearances he was introduced as a lexicographer but this description gradually disappeared and he was thereafter mostly referred to as working on a monumental history of the beer-drinking habits of the English people.

He is an amateur sleuth, frequently called upon by the police, whom he frustrates in the usual manner of most fictional detectives by refusing to reveal his deductions until he has arrived at a complete solution to the problem. Most of Fell's exploits concern the unravelling of locked room mysteries or of "impossible crimes". When he himself becomes frustrated, he is likely to cry out, "Archons of Athens!"

Dr Fell is supposedly based upon G. K. Chesterton (author of the Father Brown stories),[2] whose physical appearance and personality were similar to those of Doctor Fell.[3]

Chapter 17 of the celebrated novel The Three Coffins contains Dr. Fell's equally celebrated "locked room lecture",[4] in which he delineates many of the methods by which apparently locked-room or impossible-crime murders might be committed. In the course of his discourse, he states, off-handedly, that he and his listeners are, of course, characters in a book.


  • 1935, Death-Watch
  • 1949, Below Suspicion
  • 1966, Panic in Box C
  • 1967, Dark of the Moon
  • 1991, Fell and Foul Play


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