Rim of the Pit
About Henning Nelms
After 1945, when it became very difficult to publish mystery fiction, Nelms could not get his third novel published. He then stopped writing fiction and to this day no copy of his third novel has been found. Nelms is best known as a magician, and wrote what is widely considered to be one of the most important books on the performance of magic: Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurers.
A group of people gather at a remote snowbound lodge in the wilds of northern New England. A seance is held in order to reach the dead husband of the medium. Remarried, the medium's husband wants permission from the dead man to open a tract of land to logging. During the seance it appears that the spirit of the dead man returns to possess one of the group, using him as an instrument to murder another of the group.
The hero, Rogan Kincaid, is an adventurer who takes it upon himself (with help from a Czech refugee, the daughter of the dead man, and others), to solve the mystery before the police are brought in. As impossibilities pile up (including a locked room murder, footprints that begin and end in the middle of an expanse of snow, and a murderer who seems to be able to fly after being taken over by a Windigo), it looks like the only explanation is a supernatural one.
In a poll of 17 detective story writers and reviewers, this novel was voted as the second best locked room mystery of all time, behind John Dickson Carr's The Hollow Man (1935) and before Gaston Leroux's The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907-1908).
- "Ranking of Impossible Crimes by Experts". MysteryFile.com.
Dell Mapback #173,1947
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