Talk:Locked-room mystery

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Pure brain power[edit]

"Hoch's protagonist is a gifted amateur detective who uses pure brainpower to solve his cases" Really? (talk) 19:19, 17 November 2017 (UTC)


I added quite a few novels and shorts (many in French) and restored the alphabetic sort. Someone added a reference to Dick Donovan as one of the earliest locked room crime stories and as far as I'm concerned, it's without any attribution. Please contact me to discuss.

````owenburns 14 July 2007

I just added some new material about true crime and added/changed a couple of items in the authors/works section. It might not be obvious at first sight, but novels are listed first, sorted by author surname, followed by short stories. There was a reference among the Examples which included both Peter Lovesey's 'Amorous Corpse' (which is an impossible crime) and Dorothy Sayers' 'Five Red Herrings' (which isn't). I added the Lovesey short and deleted the Sayers reference. If I've misunderstood, please feel free to edit some more. Owenburns 20:48, 17 June 2007 (UTC)owenburns

Added a lot of exclusive content from Crime fiction in an attempt to shorten, regularise, organise and redistribute that overtly lengthy article. Hence, this article may be incomplete and appear a bit unencylopediac. May require attention chance 10:09, Dec 19, 2003 (UTC)

I don't remember a whole lot about the series, so I didn't really feel like diving in. Cheers tho. Sockatume 01:14, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think the first "Tooms" story in the X-Files TV series is like a locked room mystery. Doberdog 10:34, 8 June 2006 (UTC) Doberdog


Having read the story by Baum (Suicide of Kiaros), I don't really see it as a "hate crime", considering he perpetrated it out of desparation. 17:58, 15 August 2006 (UTC)


... "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841). The story contains Poe's statement of the "rules" of the locked-room mystery. - Where? Aliter 18:12, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Why not read the article "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", wherein you will find this information? I added an explicit pointer to aid the slow reader. Ortolan88 20:07, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

I haven't been on en: much lately, and the whole mention of those ""rules"" has since been removed, but the answer to your question would have been:

because if we were to expect them there, than that text should have linked it.
long version
Because I knew that story very well, had reread it that very month, and had done so once more just before posting, just to be sure nothing remotely like rules was in them. And following your lead, I see that there was indeed nothing on that page to support that Poe was setting rules for this genre, if it could be called such at the time. The story does give, and that was quoted on the page, a good example of logical reasoning, if a faulty one.

Aliter 00:33, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

True Crime[edit]

I must say that the recently added "true crime" section sure does read like it was written by an old-fashioned journalist:

  1. "Surely all the devious methods described above are the products of over-heated and diabolically cunning minds and could never actually happen in real life?"
  2. "It transpired . . . "
  3. "Another baffling puzzler . . . "

Since there is not a link to George Colvocoresses my interest in the authorship rises. Since the contributor User:Owenburns has no actual page, my interest in the authorship rises more. Since I was unfairly accused of plagiarism on the grounds that something I did was "too well written to be original" I would hardly say the same of someone else, but I sure would like to know where this stuff came from. Fascinating addition, by the way, and at least George Colvocoresses was really murdered, so I could be full of it here, but that's a big chunk of unattributed stuff all written in the same old-fashioned style. Ortolan88

It's a nice read, but the style is less encyclopedic and more like it was taken from a book of "true crime" stories. A Google search finds nothing but Wikipedia when searching for the sentences, so I can't conclusively say that it's a copyvio but it is pretty darn fishy. --TexasDex 06:06, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I can only find one source for the Morton Conroy story, a semi-fictional book, What the Corpse Revealed by Hugh Miller. Miller writes that parts of his book are "products of the author's imagination and/or have been fictionalised". Can anyone find another citiation?

Also, I'm teased by the last sentence: "The technique was later used in a fictional locked-room mystery published in the UK and the US." Can anyone cite the title or author?

Elmore Judge 16:49, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

The story under the heading "A Heavy Question" seems to be reproduced from the book Mysteries of the Unexplained. I can't find my copy, so I'm not sure if the wording is indentical, but I suspect so. (Edit: the identical text is quoted from that book on this website. So it would appear to be plagiarized.) Several of the other stories in this section are in that book as well. Citations would be helpful. Parables 15:29, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

I've removed the paragraph which the editor above noted as being identical to a website and thus a copyright violation. It is stored here for convenience, in case someone can clear up the duplication.

A Heavy Question - At the end of a day's work in 1974, workers for the Dowing Construction Company of Indianapolis left a 5 ton steel wrecking ball hanging from a crane 200 feet above the ground. When they came back the next morning the ball was gone. Police and all concerned were baffled, and the ball was never found.

I have also removed the sentence beginning "Let us examine ..." as being non-encyclopedic in tone. Accounting4Taste 16:49, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Kindaichi Case Files[edit]

I would very much like to contact the lady/gentleman who inserted a reference to the Kinaichi Case Files, hitherto unknown to me.


How about Long Dark Teatime of the Soul[edit]

Dirk Gently's client in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul is found decapitated in a locked and barricaded basement room, his head spinning on a record turntable several feet from his seated body. It turns out that he was decapitated by a demon that hid behind a molecule until the cops left. But because of the supernatural component, does this count? ChristinaDunigan 01:58, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Christina, I agree with you and I've added Teatime to the list. BrendanAdkins (talk) 23:02, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Five Red Herrings paragraph[edit]

I've edited the paragraph where it talks about "The killer is seen committing a crime then is found dead". I managed to identify one misspelled story title as being by Peter Lovesey, corrected the title of the Dorothy L. Sayers novel, but the other reference was just too mangled to identify. If someone can figure out whether this is a novel or short story and identify its writer, by all means put it back. Accounting4Taste 17:54, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

I believe I found the reference; the title was half-missing. I've added distinguishing information for a number of other entries, and deleted the suggestion that Carr's The Case of the Constant Suicides had a ghost at its heart (there are plenty of these stories with supernatural trappings). I'm not familiar with a number of these references and think it would be appropriate if someone gave their authors as well as the title. Accounting4Taste 18:10, 11 June 2007 (UTC)


I'm sorry, I must strongly disagree with the recent addition about the 2003 film Identity and have thus deleted it. It's not a locked room mystery or even an impossible crime -- the characters do not have a "cast iron alibi", as suggested -- the solution to the mystery makes it dubious to include in this category (I don't wish to give away the ending, but it's not based on what I'd call a "physical" solution to the mystery, more a metaphysical one, which for me puts it in the category of solutions that depend upon supernatural means and hence rules it out of this category). Certainly it has a "twist" ending, and it's a movie I enjoyed very much, but I can't agree that it is an example that belongs here. Accounting4Taste 16:24, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Locked room puzzles[edit]

I've known similar scenarios used as a short lateral-thinking puzzle. The 'classic' being

A man is found hanging from a rope tied to the ceiling. He is too high to have got there unaided, and the room is locked from the inside, with no other exit. How?

and the usual answer, rot13ed (does Wikipedia have a better spoiler method?)

Ur fgbbq ba n oybpx bs vpr, juvpu zrygrq naq rincbengrq. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:25, 31 October 2007 (UTC)


  • A dead man wearing a backpack was found in the middle of an empty field. What's in the backpack?
    • Habcrarq cnenpuhgr. (Rot13)--RicHard-59 (talk) 17:17, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

To deal with the last question - which has nothing to do with 'locked room' mysteries. That was put to me many years ago as a 'puzzle' by a young workmate. After a few false attempts I found the solution with a gratifying 'eureka' sensation. The backpack is an unopened parachute. O Murr (talk) 18:03, 6 August 2018 (UTC)

How to proceed with wikification?[edit]

I've found the article in the list of those that need wikifying (it's there because of the tag). It's very long. As well as "Examples" it has a further long listing of works in the genre, broken down by language and other variables. I'm concerned that more and more works are being added without sources for whether they are a locked room mystery, and often without formatting or wikification, and they are by no means all notable enough to have an article or even an article on the author. One solution would be to split it into Locked room mystery and List of locked room mystery stories. What do others think? Itsmejudith (talk) 17:28, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

Support split proposal. Henry Merrivale (talk) 02:54, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Speaking as someone who's just added Rupert Penny to the list, I support the split proposal; it will make the list easier to use. I wanted to add that sometimes the unlinked names of authors such as Mr. Penny are placeholders for an article I hope to create some day (when I find out enough about the author to make an article possible); I don't think it's a question necessarily of notability but quantum of information. And I also suggest that some people look at lists like this to find out what other books might interest them; I agree that not all the entries are adequately sourced but feel free to remove things that you feel shouldn't be there, or perhaps (for lesser-known authors such as Penny) wait to see someone add a citation to verify the locked-room status of the particular work. Accounting4Taste:talk 17:00, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

John Dickson Carr summary[edit]

"A man dies in a room at the top of a tower in a Scottish castle that is believed to be haunted. Despite evidence showing the people had no reason to kill themselves, they are shown to have been alone at the time of the murder." I haven't read this particular book, but this summary is obviously inadequate. Who are "the people" who "had no reason to kill themselves"? Only one man has been mentioned. (talk) 21:48, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

It's The Case of the Constant Suicides -- Jon Ascton  (talk) 10:02, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
Another man (the suspected killer of the first, if memory serves) is later found dead in a cabin--locked from the inside, naturally. - Snarkibartfast (talk) 13:48, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Definition and variations[edit]

It seems to me that two variations on the "impossible crime" format would be worth mentioning. In the first case, there is apparently only one person who could have committed the crime, and the reader has good reason to believe that person to be innocent (he is the hero of the story, for example). The job of the detective is to clear the suspect's name and show how the crime was really committed. In the second case, the killer is known, but has an airtight alibi that apparently makes it impossible for her to have committed the crime. The job of the detective is to explain how it was, nevertheless, done. (This form is also a type of "howdunnit".)

An example of the first variation in a somewhat unusual format is the series of Phoenix Wright games for the Nintendo DS, where you play as a defense attorney whose cases are always hopelessly impossible because your client is the only possible suspect (yet is always innocent). For example, two men are observed in a rowboat in the middle of a lake. Shots are heard, and one man falls over board. When the body is found he is dead, shot at close range. The other man is your client. - Snarkibartfast (talk) 13:48, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

As you say though, your examples are variations on "impossible crime", so rather than adding them here why not create an Impossible Crime page, where it would be natural to give examples of impossible crime such as locked room and your examples, among others. PL290 (talk) 14:55, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Isn't that what this article is about? As I've always understood the term, and as it's defined in the article, a "locked room mystery" doesn't necessarily involve a literal locked room. It refers to any mysterious crime (usually a murder, but occasionally a heist, disappearance or other skulduggery) that would seem to be impossible or could only be explained by supernatural phenomena. In fact, a large part of the stories in the genre are devoted to coming up with other situations that also apparently preclude mischief. Of course, without a source, all of this is original research. -Snarkibartfast (talk) 03:37, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
They are certainly treated as synonymous by some; however, a quick search finds, for example, a book reviewer saying The Lost Special features an impossible crime, rather than a locked-room mystery. My own understanding of the term is more-or-less identical to yours, to the extent that there doesn't have to be an actual locked room, but I thought the impossibility still had to be that of entering or leaving the crime scene, making this a subset of impossible crime because the latter could be impossible for a variety of other reasons (as, of course, you are saying). Using that definition of locked room, no, impossible crime isn't what this article is about. But my understanding may not be the majority view; hopefully someone will manage to produce a definitive source to answer this question. If you still feel it is what this article is about, I don't have any strong feeling against it going here. PL290 (talk) 08:07, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Is this another example?[edit]

What about Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" ? The murderer has to be someone on the train, which in this context is surely a "locked room"? Old_Wombat (talk) 07:54, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

This wouldn't qualify, as according to the article on the novel, the train stops in a snowstorm on the night of the murder. Furthermore, Poirot suggests that the murderer could have been someone who boarded the train at the last stop and then escaped. — (talk) 13:02, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Move page to "Locked-room mystery"[edit]

Strictly, the article title should be "Locked-room mystery" as it is the room that is locked, not the mystery. Several external links in the article already use this form. Should the page be moved? — (talk) 13:04, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Yes, agreed, as a compound modifier, hyphenated "locked-room mystery" is the correct form, and I have thus made the move. —Lowellian (reply) 10:29, 9 December 2015 (UTC)


There's a long list of examples of mysterious locked rooms, but no mention of their solutions! Wouldn't it be a good idea to success the various solutions to locked room mysteries?! Gymnophoria (talk) 21:28, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

The Moonstone[edit]

Surely the Moonstone isn't an example of a locked-room murder? There is a murder towards the end of the book but the means of entry and exit are clear. If anything in the story qualifies as a locked-room situation it's the theft of the diamond, which makes it an (atypical) locked-room mystery but not a murder. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Machiajelly (talkcontribs) 00:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

"Locked room" vs "impossible crime"[edit]

This article treats the two terms synonymously, which they are not. A locked room mystery is a subset of the impossible crime genre. A locked room story needs a room - this seems self-evident. A unexplainable crime that takes place in the open is correctly labeled impossible crime, not locked room. Please note "The Mammoth Book of Locked-Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes" "Locked Room Murders and Other Impossible Crimes: A Comprehensive Bibliography" "All but Impossible!: An Anthology of Locked Room and Impossible Crime Stories by Members of the Mystery Writers of America." If publishers of the genre recognize the difference, surely Wikipedia should. MarkinBoston (talk) 22:56, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

No mention of Roland T. Owen case?[edit]


I noticed that there is no mention in the article of the famous murder mystery of Roland T. Owen: Considering that the article has a section on real-life cases, I believe this case definitely deserves notice as such an example. Okama-San (talk) 22:00, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Add Banacek?[edit]

If the entry continues to conflate locked room and impossible crime genres, then it should include the TV series Banacek (about an insurance investigator who found items stolen in impossible thefts). (talk) 14:47, 13 September 2020 (UTC)

Your understanding of the concept is completely wrong. And, for what it's worth, we are not compiling a list.
Gareth Griffith-Jones (contribs) (talk) 16:42, 13 September 2020 (UTC)