Saturday, August 16, 2014

"A Tale of Mystery and Ratiocination Very Far Above the Average"

By Gaston Leroux (1868-1927).
1908. 377 pages.
Online HERE (in French).
An Italian film with the same title having nothing to do with this book was released in 1974 (IMDb).
So what did Gaston Leroux follow up with after The Mystery of the Yellow Room? This:
[Full review] The present volume is a sequel to that exceptionally clever detective story, 'The Mystery of the Yellow Room.' We presume that it is no disadvantage in a sequel, from the practical point of view, that it shall send the reader back to the pages of its predecessor.
That is what M. Leroux does in the present instance, though indirectly. Yet it would have been better to insert a frank recommendation right at the beginning that the earlier work be read as a preparation for the treat to come; for without a previous acquaintance with the two men whose deeds fill the pages of both stories, the reader will find it somewhat difficult to enter into the spirit of the latter events.
'The Perfume of the Lady in Black' can be described as inferior to the 'Mystery of the Yellow Room' and yet remain a tale of mystery and ratiocination very far above the average. Its inferiority consists in this, that the same device which was employed with simple and direct ingenuity in the earlier book, appears here in a somewhat mechanical and cumbersome setting.
Still, the highest judgment a book of this kind can aspire to is that it cannot be laid down till it is finished. That verdict can be justly pronounced in the present case. — "Current Fiction," THE NATION (March 18, 1909; scroll down to page 282, middle) [NOTE: This same review is reproduced on MYSTERY*FILE (30 July 2013), with additional bibliographical information.]
[Review excerpt] . . . The reader's suspicions are constantly being diverted from one person to another, and it is Rouletabille alone who holds the key and funishes the final explanation. Whether this explanation will be found satisfactory the present reviewer does not venture to say.  . . . — Rupert Ranney, "Seven Books of the Month," THE BOOKMAN (April 1909)
- Another of Leroux's books is discussed HERE.

Category: Detective fiction

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