In getting primed for writing my next mystery tale, I’ve been reading some of the old masters. One novelist who has somewhat fallen from modern view is John Dickson Carr. I’m finishing up Hag’s Nook, the first of his Dr. Fell mysteries. Gideon Fell—a lexicographer by trade—is a rather bulky fellow, bespeckled and mustached, who wears a cape and gets about with the aid of two canes. In some of the novels, he’s compared to Father Christmas or Old King Cole. When not plying his sleuthing skills, the good doctor is busy writing a seemingly endless book on the lore and history of British beer-drinking. Hey, what’s not to like about this guy? John Dickson Carr (who also wrote under the pseudonym Carter Dickson) has earned the reputation as master of the locked room mystery. Additionally, his books often have a gothic, ghostly undercurrent that appeals to my own shadowy Irish heart. Hag’s Nook concerns a crumbling, ancient prison tower, an impossible death, and a creaky old family curse. Again, what’s not to like?