#812: The Forbidden House (1932) by Michel Herbert & Eugene Wyl [trans. John Pugmire 2021]

Forbidden House

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Nouveau-riche Napoléon Verdinage acquires Marchenoire Manor despite mysterious missives warning him against purchasing this “forbiddin [sic] house” and promising his untimely demise. Learning that the previous owners either died or took the letter writer’s warnings to heart and left, Verdinage becomes only more determined to stay. He only has himself to blame, then, when at the two month deadline given for his departure he is shot dead by a man who apparently vanished from the house…an outcome all the more baffling because the only exit was watched the entire time and multiple searches fail to discover the killer anywhere inside.

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#797: The Tiger’s Head (1991) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2013]

Tiger's Head

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I had intended to reread The Tiger’s Head (1991) by Paul Halter for my 800th post next Thursday, as it is a permanent toss-up between this and The Madman’s Room (1990) for my favourite of the French maestro’s work thus far translated by John Pugmire. But then everything — everything — I tried to read this week struck me as turgid, tedious, and unbearable, and Ben at The Green Capsule had a wonderful time reading Halter’s The Phantom Passage (2005), and I thought “Why not bring it forward a week and actually enjoy myself for a change?”. So here we are, and I don’t regret it, not even for a moment.

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#786: Lending the Key to the Locked Room (2002) by Tokuya Higashigawa [trans. Ho-Ling Wong 2020]

Lending the Key to the Locked Room

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The sixth translation of (shin) honkaku by Ho-Ling Wong under the auspices of Locked Room International, Lending the Key to the Locked Room (2002) is a paean to the glory days of the complex puzzle plots of the 1930s while oddly frugal in its own plotting and characterisation. Delightfully self-aware at times in a manner that (to my taste) never succumbs to the danger of outstaying its welcome, the savvy elements of this debut are undercut by issues elsewhere: a reliance on concidence, a tiny cast with very little to misdirect into, and the sheer amount of irrelevant information that carries you through.

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#735: Reprint of the Year – The Red Locked Room [ss] (2020) by Tetsuya Ayukawa [ed. Taku Ashibe & Ho-Ling Wong; trans. Ho-Ling Wong 2020]

So, the obvious question in light of this entry into the Reprint of the Year Awards 2020 as organised by Kate at CrossExaminingCrime is: can these stories originally published between 1954 and 1961 be considered a reprint if they’ve never been published in English before? To which I ask: if they couldn’t, would they be in the running for the Reprint of the Year Awards?

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#671: “At this point, everything seems too far-fetched to be taken seriously…” – The Invisible Circle (1996) by Paul Halter [trans. John Pugmire 2014]

Invisible Circle, The

A triptych of needs are being met here: firstly a last-minute replacement for the Modern Locked Room Mystery for TomCat I’d intended to write about, secondly the addressing of a Paul Halter book not yet reviewed on this blog, and thirdly some tangential research for next Saturday’s In GAD We Trust episode.

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#658: The Flying Boat Mystery (1935) by Franco Vailati [trans. Igor Longo 2019]

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Eleven of the twelve passengers in a boat plane making a trip across Italy watch the twelfth head to the front of the plane and lock himself in the tiny toilet cubicle. Thirty minutes later, when he has not emerged, someone else impatiently bangs on the door and insists the current occupant allows others to avail themselves of the conveniences. No reply is forthcoming. When the door is broken down, having been bolted in the expected manner, there is no sign of the passenger, nor any exit large enough to admit his egress (he was rather too, ahem, corpulent to have slipped through the skylight).  So…where is he?  And, more to the point, how did he get there?

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#638: Death Out of Nowhere (1945) by Alexis Gensoul & Charles Grenier [trans. John Pugmire 2019]

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Seventeen. John Pugmire has now, through Locked Room International, published 17 previously-non-Anglophone books from the Roland Lacourbe-curated Locked Room Library list, all but one being his own translations.  This brings LRI’s roster up to 38 books, a frankly incredible achievement (and hopefully a long way from finished yet), comprising among others Paul Halter, a shin honkaku renaissance, and a reprint of Locked Room Murders by Robert Adey and a completely new follow-up.  And still the great titles keep on coming, including this unheralded little gem from Alexis Gensoul and Charles Grenier — one of three books Gensoul wrote in 1945.

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