Do you ever find some authors that you know are good, possibly even great, are highly esteemed, are lauded by others whose judgment you generally agree with, that you just cannot stomach? If you are still with me after that convoluted sentence, let me explain. This past weekend I tried to once again read several novels by John Dickson Carr. I have had five of his novels around for twenty years and make periodic attempts to read them. It never seems to work.
For those who don't know Mr. Carr's work, he is widely considered to be the absolute master of the locked room mystery. His protagonist, Dr. Gideon Fell, is highly educated and erudite. He is also a man of considerable size and girth. Given that I am a fan of detective fiction, intelligent protagonists, and always root for big guys (maybe a bit of personification), it seems that the Carr novels should be some of my favorites. But they aren't. I struggle to read more than a chapter or two. And it drives me crazy because I know that if I could just get past whatever is stopping me from enjoying these books, I'd get the chance to enjoy some highly reguarded literature. This is the author that Dorothy Sayers once remarked "... can lead us away from the small, artificial, brightly lit stage of the ordinary detective plot into the menace of outer darkness." He was the president of the Mystery Writers of America and a Grand Master recipient from the same organization.
I think what really drives me crazy is the fact that the only Carr novel that I like is one that is closer to a romantic comedy than the normal Carr novel. "The Case of the Constant Suicides" is one of my favorite locked room reads, exceeding even the Sherlock Holmes stories in my esteem. When I read that story, I experience new vistas opening before me that I know must be lurking in the other novels that I cannot stand. But it is no good. Years and multiple attempts to even tolerate the other Carr novels have fallen short.
So answer the question! Do you have authors like Mr. Carr that you know you should like and yet you just cannot do it? Who are they? And perhaps more important to my personal decades long quest: did you opinion ever change to the point you came to like that author?