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Paul Halter: Crown Prince of Locked Rooms!


Halter

When John Dickson Carr died in 1977 it left a major gap in the mystery genre. Carr had ruled as the undisputed King of Locked Room mysteries since the early 1930’s – and died without an apparent heir to the title. In the English speaking world this title has laid unclaimed, but not for those who read French, and now not for those who can read a series of quite excellent translations of Paul Halter’s best known novels and short stories!

Paul Halter burst into the French mystery genre in 1987, when he won the Prix de Cognac, a respected award for French detective fiction, with this first novel ‘La Quatrieme Porte’ (The Fourth Door). The next year, he gained the highest prize in the French mystery genre, with the Prix du Roman d’Aventures, for ‘Le Brouillard Rouge’ (The Red Fog). ‘The Fourth Door’ introduces us to his two primary detectives, Dr. Alan Twist, a pipe-smoking, whiskey drinking, thin, Englishman, who works with the energetic Chief Inspector Archibald Hurst of Scotland Yard. With nine of Halter’s novels finally available in English, we can now add these fascinating titles to a part of the mystery genre that has been too long neglected.

Oddly, though Paul Halter was born in 1956, in Haguenau, a part of Alsace in north-eastern France, and writes exclusively in French, almost all of his mystery novels are set in England. This is partly because he felt it provided a more appropriate atmosphere, and also partly to emulate John Dickson Carr, an American who set most of his novels in England, and was Halter’s primary inspiration from a very young age. It is often hard to miss the many nods to Carr found in his works, from simple plot devices to very similar detectives. The main difference between Dr Twist, and Carr’s Dr Gideon Fell, is that Fell clearly outweighs Twist by a substantial margin. Nods to other great masters of this sub-genre also abound in many of his stories – demonstrating Halter’s fascination with the literature of his Golden Age predecessors. Despite being a star in French mystery literature, with a huge following in several countries, apparently including India, it has not proved to be a very rewarding career at a financial level, with Halter still earning his bread and butter as an electrical engineer for the French company, Telecom. Things may have worked out quite differently, if his novels had been translated into English at an earlier date, but at least our patience has now been rewarded by this excellent series of translations by John Pugmire, the force behind Locked Room International, and a highly respected authority on the locked-room sub-genre. I think it is now fairly safe to assume that Carr’s title has finally been passed on to another generation!

More on Paul Halter

Due to the number of titles written by Halter, we have divided his work into two different pages. One page deals solely with Halter’s Dr. Twist series, while this page deals with his other detectives, including his famous Owen Burns stories, as well as his non-series novels and short stories. The rest of his works can therefore be found at: 

Paul Halter: Dr. Twist


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Owen Burns and Achilles Stock Novels


Lord MisruleLe Roi du Desordre (The Lord of Misrule) 1994
Owen Burns (#1)

 

Locked Room Review
****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback

Book  eBook  French

Note: Gaslight, fog and a cloaked figure…

We are in Victorian London, with its gaslight and fog, not long after the Jack the Ripper Murders. A mysterious cloaked figure wearing a hideous, leprous mask and sleigh-bells is stalking the countryside outside the capital, committing murder wherever it goes, yet leaving no footprints. This is the first Paul Halter novel featuring amateur detective and aesthete Owen Burns, who regards the impossible crime as an art form. 

(Locked Room International product description)


Seven Wonders CrimeLes Sept Merveilles du Crime (The Seven Wonders of Crime) 1997
Owen Burns (#2)

Best Review
****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback

Book  eBook  French

Note: Seven crimes – each one a wonder!

Quoted from: Paul Halter, A Master of Locked Rooms by John Pugmire see full review at mysteryfile.com

Les Sept Merveilles du Crime (The Seven Wonders of Crime) – which I am halfway through translating – is set in 1905 London and features Owen Burns with Inspector Wedekind as the police foil. A seemingly demented killer is sending paintings with warning notices containing clues concerning impending murders, each of which is linked in some way to a Wonder of the Ancient World, and each of which, when it occurs, turns out to have been impossible to commit: a lighthouse keeper is set aflame in the middle of a raging storm which prevents all access, an archer is felled by a shot from such a distance that proper aiming was out of the question, a man dies in a pergola surrounded by a sea of mud, etc., etc.

It is an astonishing feat to concoct seven entirely distinct and original impossible crimes – at least four of which are top drawer – within the covers of one book (the nearest competitor being Pierre Boileau with Six Crimes Sans Assassin which did have some repetition in the murders.) This may be my favorite Halter: the rapidly-moving plot, while containing the usual high content of twists and turns, is not quite as frenetic as The Fourth Door (with an impossible crime every third chapter, it doesn’t need to be) and the character development is better. The effete Burns – a more fully-developed character than Twist – is torn between his instincts as an investigator and his admiration for the ‘artistic’ (i.e murderous) abilities of the perpetrator. The identity of the latter comes as a true surprise, and the conclusion, every bit as extraordinary as the sequence of crimes, wraps everything up very satisfyingly.


Crimes HerculesLes Douze Crimes de Hercules (The Twelve Crimes of Hercules) 2001
Owen Burns (#3)

No English Review – Not Rated.

Available only in French edition

Note: A serial killer replicates the feats of Hercules in a macabre manner

London, 1917. An unlikely serial killer dressed – in the words of the few witnesses – in a lion’s skin, perpetuates the inspired crimes of Hercules, staging macabre scenes in which Owen Burns sees the work of a great artist, and he gleefully embarks on the trail of the elusive criminal. Meanwhile, in a stately home in Kent, a colossus aptly named Hercules mourns his young  missing wife. Is there a link between him and the killer mythology buff? Why would a woman resembling the deceased enter the house under a false name? What is behind the mysterious “Chinese Room” that the patriarch had condemned before killing himself? The murders continue and fear reigns over London, until Owen Burns gradually unveils the truth.


Phantom PassageLa Ruelle fantôme (2005) (The Phantom Passage)
Owen Burns (#4)

 

Best Review
****

Now available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback 

Book  eBook  French  Amazon.ca

Note: A Strange Alley in Kraken Street

It is 1902 and in London’s infamously haunted East End there are rumours of a strange passageway which can swallow up anyone who ventures there at night and make them disappear. Kraken Street can only vanish and reappear, it can also conjure up visions of murders past and predict future ones. Who better to address this astonishing state of affairs than Owen Burns, a dandy aesthete who appreciates murder as a fine art and lends his services to Scotland Yard?

The Kraken Street alley has not officially existed for three centuries. It had never been a good place to be after dark, because it could break you and carry you away. The men who went into this strange alley were not crazy, they were not hallucinating. They simply went to a rendezvous in one of the houses in the street, and peered through a window where they saw strange scenes that appeared to have arisen from the past – or perhaps the future. Not all of those who entered the alley have returned, but Ralph Tierney was one of the lucky ones, and he says that after visiting this damn alley, it simply evaporated! What is this phantom alley? No explanation seems plausible. It  will require all the talent of the eccentric Owen Burns, and many hours of nocturnal wanderings in a dark labyrinth of London streets, to sort out all these bizarre events. 


Chambre d’HorusLa Chambre d’Horus (2007) (Chamber of Horus)
Owen Burns (#5)

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in French eBook edition

Note: The curse of the mummy?

Valley of the Kings, 1911. The discovery of a burial chamber harbouring a genuine pharaoh’s sarcophagus causes a worldwide sensation. But the strange position of the mummy is a cause for concern, as it seems to have moved! And then a succession of disturbing events begins to taint the find. Inexplicable deaths are increasing in the team that uncovered the tomb. Would the curse of the mummy prove a reality? To carry out their investigation, Owen Burns and his sidekick Achille Stock, must uncover the legends of ancient Egypt, and even bring in a strange collaborator, who will not hesitate to make the sacred journey aboard the barque Anubis.


Masque du vampireLe Masque du Vampire (2014) (The Vampire’s Mask)
Owen Burns (#6)

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in the French edition

Note: The evil prince returns?

September 1901. Disturbing events are occurring in Cleverley, a small village lost in the confines of Hertfordshire. Peter, the son of a baker, is terrified by a nightmare of a face pressed against his window, staring greedily. Ten days later, the young Benjamin surprises a strange wild-eyed individual, wearing a loose black cape, near the entrance of the cemetery. Almost a month later, in the same cemetery, little Alice Sherwood narrowly escape a sinister character trying to assault her. Finally, in the vault of Eversleigh, a grim discovery will be made, so staggering that it will confuse investigators from Scotland Yard. In this diabolical plot, Detective Owen Burns will deploy all his talent to stem the evil Prince of Darkness.


Novels set in Ancient Greece or Crete:


crime dedaleLe Crime de Dedale (The Crime of Daedalus) 1997 
Ancient Greece & Crete (#1)

 

Best Review
****

Available only in the French edition

Note: The Death of the Minotaur

Quoted from: Paul Halter, A Master of Locked Rooms by John Pugmire – see full review at mysteryfile.com

Daedalus’ crime was killing the Minotaur. (You thought it was Theseus whodunit? According to Halter, Daedalus – the da Vinci of ancient Crete – got there first!) He declares he will slay the creature while he himself is locked in another room of Minos’ palace. The Minotaur is kept in a room in a sunken chamber, down steps at the bottom of which is a door to which Minos himself has the only key. The chamber has an open roof around which are stationed four soldiers under orders to survey the proceedings whenever Minos is down there. Minos leads Daedalus down to check the Minotaur is alive and returns him to his room. When Minos again leads Daedalus down, he finds the Minotaur’s throat has been cut. 

The solution is completely without precedent, to my knowledge, and is brilliantly simple: as in Maskelyne’s celebrated walking-through-the-wall illusion, what appears to be the biggest impediment is in fact the key to the whole effect. This book is probably the best of Halter’s several excursions into the Ancient World, the others being Le Geant de Pierre (The Stone Giant) and Le Chemin de la Lumiere (The Path of Light), in each of which a present-day group of adventurers attempts to solve a mystery of the past from archaeological clues and the sections of the story alternate between past and present.


Geant PierreLe Geant de Pierre (The Stone Giant) 1998
Ancient Greece & Crete (#2)

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in the French edition

Note: A clay disk provides a link to an ancient and more recent cataclysm. 

The “stone giant” is a clay disk, symbolizing the ancient inhabitants of Thera. A young archeologist, Patrick, meets a strange girl who reminiscences, in a daze, of a previous life on an island, ravaged by a cataclysm. “This is our island. It is round like this record and has a mountain, not quite in the middle … She is the Stone Giant.” Her words clearly refer to the ancient Greek names given to Thera, respectively Kalliste and Strongyllé, originally noted by Herodotus, and now known as the Strongyle-Thera volcano of Santorini. Patrick had never truly understood his destiny – until that day when he encountered Helen. 

This is a truly haunting tale that moves from death in an underwater cavern in the Aegean to the extraordinary eruption of Mount Saint Helens. 


Path LightLe Chemin de la Lumiere (The Path of Light) 2000 
Ancient Greece & Crete (#3)

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in the French edition

Notes: Love across the ages – Halter style!

Michel had promised himself he would escape his boring daily life with no new horizons, and when the island of Crete appeared in the window of his plane, he knew his promise would be fulfilled. Now he joins an archeological dig, and falls in love with a woman he thinks he uncovered on the excavation site! If only he had a way to turn back time! In The Path of Light, Halter is a master of time and destiny, juggling back and forth between past and present.


Other Novels


Crimson FogLe Brouillard Rouge (The Crimson Fog) 1988
No series

 

Best Review
*****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback 

Book  eBook  French

Note: Winner of the Prix du Roman d’Aventures, 1988

In this fascinating novel, one of the masters of impossible crime fiction takes on one of the greatest criminals of all time. Sticking scrupulously to the facts, Paul Halter explores the Jack the Ripper murders and offers his own theories about the identity of the monster, what drove him, and how he was able to vanish under the noses of the police during the spree of escalating horror which sent the citizens of fog-ridden London into paroxysms of fear in the autumn of 1888. But the year before “Saucy Jacky” began his reign of terror, someone started to investigate an astonishing impossible murder committed in the country village of Blackfield nine years earlier. That, too, involved a monstrous murderer who slaughtered witnesses and vanished under the noses of his pursuers. Is there a connection with the Ripper cases which followed? 

(Locked Room International product description)


Invisible CircleLe Cercle Invisible (The Invisible Circle) 1996 (English translation)
No series

Best Review
****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback 

Book  eBook  French

Note: Arthurian murder by invitation

In ‘The Invisible Circle’, seven people receive invitations to a ‘singular experience’ during a weekend in Cornwall in a castle reputedly built on the site of King Arthur’s, and situated on an island tenuously connected to the mainland. The sinister host announces that a murder will be committed that night, shows them a sword embedded in a stone (which none of them is able to pull out) and a golden chalice which he claims is the Holy Grail sought by the Knights of the Round Table. Thus begins a nightmarish series of events including impossible murders, the disappearance of the Grail, and communication with the mainland is cut off. Has the vengeful king indeed returned? And is there any connection to the recent release of the host’s homicidal half-brother? The plot, one of Paul Halter’s most convoluted, is great fun. 

(Locked Room International product description)


Flowers SatanLes Fleurs de Satan (Satan’s Flowers) 2002 
No series

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in the French edition

Note: What secrets are hidden by Satan’s flowers?

Debra Jordan is changing her identity and leaving her husband and a stifling life. She decides to hit the road with no plans – well almost no plans!

When she meets Peter Sutcliffe, she thinks she has finally found a little peace. But is this just an illusion? In the quiet village where they meet and settle, it is rumored that their house is haunted, and that the profusion of flowers about the house hide a curse. Debra is soon plagued by visions, and has an encounter with the ghost of Violet, a woman once murdered by her husband. While Peter is passionate about the mystery of their home, Debra gets too caught up in the enchanting atmosphere of the villa, and the potent scent of the flowers. What secrets of the past are being hidden by the villagers and their home ?


Tigre BorgneLe Tigre Borgne (The One-Eyed Tiger) 2004
No series

 

Best Review
****

Available only in French eBook edition

Note: Tigers, fakirs, & spies in British India

At the end of the 19th century the Maharajah Singh Jaswan reigns over Kandore, in the heart of India. However, his authority faces two terrible dangers: a men-eating tiger terrorizing the population, and a fakir, rebelling against his authority, who has supernatural powers. Not to mention the young spy Patrick Mallory, sent by the British Empire to monitor the Maharajah and perhaps foment a rebellion.


no-imageLa Lettre Qui Tue (The Deadly Letter) 1992 
No series

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in French edition

Note: No locked room or impossible crime!

Little information available on this title in either language, but this is one of those rare Halter titles that is not a locked room or impossible crime!


Mystre AngesLe Mystere de l’Allee des Anges (The Mystery of Angels’ Lane) 1999
No series

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in French edition

Note: John Smiley treads the Path of Angels!

England, finally! John Smiley, young and fresh off the boat from Australia, is in the London of 1937. A new life is about to begin, full of thrills and adventure – or at least he hopes that is the case. His expectations are soon met when he witnesses a crime being committed … seventeen years earlier, in the mysterious Path of Angels! And, by chance, when he meets the victim, he immediately falls in love. John Smiley might soon regret leaving the tranquility of the Australian bush.


Lunes AssassinesLunes Assassines (Killers’ Moon) 2006
No series

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in French edition

Note: Two recluses dig into a deadly past

We are in 1935, in the middle of the English countryside. Two orphan sisters, Louise and Margaret live as recluses in a dark and desolate mansion under the despotic rule of an embittered old uncle. But legend also inhabits this sinister place. A painter once lived here and went mad, committing the worst crimes against anyone who dared to look in her direction. Intrigued by this terrible history, the two sisters try to unravel the mystery and end up in peril of their lives.


Nuit MinotaureLa Nuit du Minotaure (The Night of the Minotaur) 2008
No series

 

No English Review – Not Rated

Available only in French edition

Note: A monster is on the loose in Alsace

France is terrified! A succession of vile murders has terrorized the residents of Wingensur -sur- Moder, Foreschwiller, Betschdorf, Niederbronn, and Neuburg. In the middle of the usually quiet Alsatian countryside, an evil creature is on the loose. While the region is subjected to the relentless horror of this horned monster, Hugo Van Helsing quickly dispatches one of his most improbable representatives. An adventurer whose only weapons are the mind and … Picon Beer! Roland Bayard knows that the contest which will play out between him and the beast will not be an easy game. 


Testament Silas LydeckerLe Testament de Silas Lydecker (The Will of Silas Lydecker) 2009
No series

No English Review – Not Rated

Available in French edition (no link available)

Note: An odd challenge with a big pay-off!

In London, 1926. Clyde Fillmore, a young adventurer who searched in vain for gold across the world, may be finally on the path to riches. His uncle Silas Lydecker, who has one of the largest fortunes in England wants to make him his sole heir. The uncle, however, puts a single condition: Clyde must find Marjorie, his childhood friend, and marry her in the next six months. Otherwise, the money reverts to his cousin Jack.

Fascinated by this strange proposal, the nephew accepts the challenge and set off in pursuit of the young woman. But soon things go wrong for Clyde. One night, Silas Lydecker is found dead in his office, locked from the inside. The police immediately begin looking for Clyde. There is no doubt about it – young Fillmore must be the murderer of his uncle. Especially since his name is on the will – and he was on the scene on the day of the death

In the style of the French masters Boileau and Narcejac, with a touch of  John Dickson Carr, ‘The Testament of Silas Lydecker’ mixes murder, locked rooms, and breathless chases in a loose adaptation of the Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. 


SpiralSpiral  2012
No series

 

Best Review
****

Available in French eBook edition (no link available)

Note: A haunted spiral staircase?

Quentin has received disturbing letters from Melanie, his girlfriend, who is staying in Britain with an eccentric uncle who lives in an isolated mansion. The main tower is built around a spiral staircase that is reportedly haunted. Would Melanie be threatened? When the girl gives him no sign of life, Quentin rushes in and things quickly go into a downward spiral.


Short Stories


Night WolfLa Nuit du Loup (The Night of the Wolf) 2000
Short Stories 

 

Best Review
*****

Available in a John Pugmire English translation – ebook and paperback

Book  eBook  French

Note: Stories included in this volume: 

Quotes from: at-scene-of-crime.blogspot.ca –   See full review

‘Les Morts dansent la nuit’ translated as ‘The Dead Dance at Night’

“It’s all about an old family curse – after a seemingly random and inexplicable murder, laughter is heard coming from the sealed crypt where the victim has been buried. When the crypt is opened, some coffins are discovered scattered about the room, some coffins are empty, and others contain two corpses in all-too-suggestive positions!” Dr Twist arrives to Solve the Case.

‘L’Appel de la Lorelei’ translated as ‘The Call of the Lorelei’

“In this story, a German man named Hans Georg gets married to a French girl, Clementine Vix. Hans mentions that he has heard the song of the Lorelei, which apparently lured boats to their doom on the Rhine river. It’s an apparently harmless tale, but the day after his wedding, police are baffled when Hans is found drowned in a pond with only his footprints in the snow leading to his corpse.” Dr. Twist solves this impossible mystery.

‘Meurtre à Cognac’ translated as ‘Murder in Cognac’

“A retired winemaker and part-time debunker of fraudulent occultists has gotten a death threat from one of the magicians he’s exposed. So he does what anyone else in a locked-room mystery would do: he goes to the top of a tower, locks two doors behind him, and comfortably awaits to be poisoned in impossible circumstances by reading a first edition of Harold Vickers’ ultra-rare novel, La Mort avait des ailes (Death Had Wings).” Dr. Twist solves the case.

‘L’Abominable bonhomme de neige’ translated as ‘The Abominable Snowman’

“The victim was Fred Graves, who had apparently been murdered by a snowman! The harmless-looking thing apparently burst into life and viciously killed him with a bayonet that had been placed in the snowman’s arms.”

‘Le Spectre doré’ translated as ‘The Golden Ghost’

“Charles Godley is a mean, Scrooge-like miser who gets an unexpected visitor at Christmas. It’s a poor match girl, terrified out of her wits. She is being pursued by a mysterious golden specter, a story that Godley is not particularly inclined to believe. Why? When he opened the door, he saw the girl’s footprints outside, and they were the only ones there. “

‘L’Escalier assassin’ translated as ‘The Tunnel of Death’

“This is a very short story… taking place in modern day Le Havre. A ruthless business mogul, Bertrand Charpie, takes a ride on the world’s longest escalator. Police are guarding both ends of the tunnel, and some even accompany him on the escalator. About midway through the tunnel, a gunshot sounds and Charpie slumps to the ground, mortally wounded. But nobody has entered or left the tunnel, and witnesses swear they didn’t see the killer!”

‘La Hache’ translated as ‘The Cleaver’

“Owen Burns returns to solve a very strange mystery: namely explaining how a man can dream the correct details of a murder at the exact same moment as the murder takes place!” 

‘La Marchande de Fleurs’ translated as ‘The Flower Girl’

“This is the absolute masterpiece of the collection, in which Paul Halter unashamedly tries to make his readers believe in Santa Claus! The story is told in retrospect to Owen Burns and Achille Stock, and Burns solves the case in tremendous style.” 

‘Ripperomanie’ translated as ‘Rippermania’

“This is a short story which begins with a patient consulting a psychiatrist. A few twists later, we find out who the patient really is and why he’s really at the psychiatrist’s office. It’s a short story, without an impossible crime…”

‘La Nuit du loup’ translated as ‘The Night of the Wolf’  

Sleuths Irving Farrell and Chief Inspector John Reilly, are in Eastmorland, a “small village in the north of England,” (time unspecified). “Halter manages to nicely fool his readers, most of whom will make an assumption about the story early on, only to have the tables turned neatly at the finale.”


Balle NausicaaLa Balle Nausicaa (Nausicaa Ball) 2011
Short Stories

 

Best Review
****

Available only in French edition 

Note: Seven famous Halter tales!

Strange criminals have made an appointment in this collection…. Collected here are seven famous tales by today’s master of the impossible crime. Each story is a glittering example of the brilliant plotting and atmosphere of foreboding that characterizes Paul Halter’s writing.

Stories in this volume include:

Quotes from: at-scene-of-crime.blogspot.ca – See full review

‘La Tombe de David Jones’ or ‘David Jones Grave’

“A Polish edition of Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party – but the image works well for this story! When David Jones was accused of a murder, he protested his innocence right until he was hanged. But he was determined to leave this world with a bang, and right before sentence was carried out, he called upon God himself to leave a sign in this world to prove his innocence: he asks God to make sure no grass will ever grow on the spot he is buried in. And unlikely as it might sound, the wish seems granted, because in the middle of a lawn there is a big patch of nothing where grass ought to be. Dr. Alan Twist is unimpressed, but villagers tell him all about a man who was determined to break the curse and how it somehow kept on, although the soil was changed and gardening experts attended to the project… not to mention the particularly paranoid precautions: a giant wall that was constructed, guard dogs that were kept on patrol, and professional security guards that were hired!”

‘La Balle de Nausicaa’ or ‘Nausicaa’s Ball’

”Rachel Syms is a beautiful actress, and her latest role is the part of “Nausicaa” in a film inspired by the legend of Ulysses. Rachel is married to George Portman, but soon falls in love with Anthony Stamp, who is playing Ulysses. “How very convenient, then, when Portman is discovered dead as the result of an apparent accident!.. The cast list is small and this story is not really centered on an impossible crime. And yet the killer’s tricks to avert suspicion has a few nice touches to it..” 

‘L’Abominable bonhomme de neige’ or ‘The Abominable Snowman’

“The victim was Fred Graves, who had apparently been murdered by a snowman! The harmless-looking thing apparently burst into life and viciously killed him with a bayonet that had been placed in the snowman’s arms.”

‘Le Spectre doré’ or ‘The Golden Ghost’

“Charles Godley is a mean, Scrooge-like miser who gets an unexpected visitor at Christmas. It’s a poor match girl, terrified out of her wits. She is being pursued by a mysterious golden specter, a story that Godley is not particularly inclined to believe. Why? When he opened the door, he saw the girl’s footprints outside, and they were the only ones there. “

‘L’Étrange regard’ or ‘The Strange Look’

“This is the weakest story of them all, involving a woman with an unhealthy obsession for Hollywood actress Gene Tierney, her daughter who looks upon this idolatry with concern, and the mother’s boyfriend who shares this obsession…”

‘Le Clown de minuit’ or ‘The Clown of Midnight’

“A frightened woman seeks out help: she is apparently being stalked by a malevolent clown, who once a week rings her doorbell at midnight and stares at her before running off.”

‘La Malle sanglante’ or ‘The Bloody Trunk’

“The story is divided into three total parts, of which one is an epilogue. And it works very well! Part One introduces us to our narrator, Sanders, who gets a visit from a strange character. The visitor, who gives the name of Noël Togram, claims he’s waiting for Sanders’ neighbour, Mr. Cruchet, who has apparently put his apartment up for sale. Sanders decides to be hospitable and invites the man inside, but things soon begin to get out of hand. The two begin verbally sparring and the tables are turned on the whole scenario multiple times. It’s the most fascinating part of the story.”


English Titles


Links to all available titles in the John Pugmire translations at Amazon:

The Fourth Door (aka The Houdini Murders)
The Crimson Fog 
The Night of the Wolf (Book) (eBook)
The Demon of Dartmoor 
The Seventh Hypothesis (Book) (eBook)
The Seven Wonders of Crime
The Lord of Misrule 
The Invisible Circle (Book) (eBook)
The Tiger’s Head 

The Picture and the Past


Complete Bibliography


Paul Halter: A complete updated Bibliography (2015)

Dr. Twist and Chief Inspector Hurst novels:
La Quatrieme Porte (The Fourth Door) 1988 (#1)
La Mort Vous Invite (Death Invites You) 1989 (#2)
La Mort Derriere le Rideau (Death Behind the Curtain) 1989 (#3)
La Chambre du Fou (The Madman’s Room) 1990 (#4)
La Septieme Hypothese (The Seventh Hypothesis) 1991 (#5)
La Tete du Tigre (The Tiger’s Head) 1991 (#6)
Le Diable de Dartmoor (The Devil of Dartmoor) 1993) (#7)
A 139 Pas de la Mort (139 Steps from Death) 1994 (#8)
L’Image Trouble (The Picture from The Past) 1995 (#9)
La Malediction de Barberousse (Redbeard’s Curse) 1995 (#10)
L’Arbre aux Doigts Tordus (The Tree with the Twisted Fingers) 1996 (#11)
Le Cri de la Sirene (The Siren’s Song) 1998 (#12)
Meurtre dans un Manoir Anglais (Murder in an English Manor) 1999 (#13)
L’Homme Qui Aimait les Nuages (The Man who Loved Clouds) 1999 (#14)
L’Allumette Sanglante (The Bloody Match) 2001 (#15)
Le Toile de Penelope (Penelope’s Web) 2001 (#16)

Les Larmes de Sibyl (2005) (Sibyl’s Arms) (#17)
Les Meurtres de la salamandre (2009) (The Salamander Murders) (#18)

La Corde D’Argent (The Silver Cord) 2010 (#19)
Le Voyaguer Du Passe (The Traveller Passes) 2012 (#20)
La Tombe indienne (The Indian Tomb) 2013 (#21)

*****

Note: The bibliography above is an attempt to resolve several outstanding issues with the content and order of the Dr. Twist series:

1.) 1001 Chambers Close correctly lists ‘La Malediction de Barberousse’ as the first instalment in the Dr. Twist series, as it was originally published in 1995. It was later re-released and now appears as $#9 0r #10 on most lists. I have stayed with this arrangement.

2.) Goodreads lists Twist #4 as La camera del pazzo. This is an Italian title used only by ‘Mondadori Classic Yellows’ #990 (1990) instead of the original French title, ‘La Chambre du Fou’.

3.) Goodreads (supported by Chambers Close) correctly list the ‘The Tiger’s Head as Twist #5 and ‘The Seventh Hypothesis as #6. Both were published in 1999, and this is the correct order of publication. However the Locked Room International translations by John Pugmire, as sold on Amazon, list ‘The Seventh Hypothesis as #5 and ‘The Tiger’s Head as Twist #6. GoodReads is technically correct, but I have retained Pugmire’s order as it is now the most common reference.

4) A similar problem occurs, with Pugmire listing the ‘The Picture from the Past’ as #9, ahead of the common (incorrect) reference for ‘La Malediction de Barberousse’, while Goodreads inverts the order. I have again retained Pugmire’s order as it is now the most common reference.

5) All lists almost agree that #11 is ‘L’Arbre aux Doigts Tordus’, only Goodreads mistakenly uses the Italian title ‘L’albero del delitto’ from the ‘Mondadori Classic Yellows’ #1008 (1996) instead of the original title, ‘L’Arbre aux Doigts Tordus’, though it is correctly listed as #11.

6) From #12 ‘Le Cri de La Sirene’ to #21 ‘La Tombe indienne’ all lists agree.

*****

Owen Burns and Achilles Stock novels:

Le Roi du Desordre (The Lord of Misrule) 1994 #1
Les Sept Merveilles du Crime (The Seven Wonders of Crime) 1997 #2
Les Douze Crimes de Hercules (The Twelve Crimes of Hercules) 2004  #3

La Ruelle fantôme (Phantom Alley) 2005 #4
La Chambre d’Horus (The House of Horus) 2007 #5

Le Masque du vampire (The Vampire’s Mask) 2014 #6

Novels set in ancient Greece or Crete:

Le Crime de Dedale (The Crime of Daedalus) 1997
Le Geant de Pierre (The Stone Giant) 1998
Le Chemin de la Lumiere (The Path of Light) 2000

Other novels:

Le Brouillard Rouge (The Crimson Fog) 1988
Le Cercle Invisible (The Invisible Circle) 1996
Les Fleurs de Satan (Satan’s Flowers) 2002
Le Tigre Borgne (The One-Eyed Tiger) 2004
La Lettre Qui Tue (The Deadly Letter) 1992 wiki x (Not LR)
Le Mystere de l’Allee des Anges (The Mystery of Angels’ Lane) 1999
Le Chemin de la Lumiere (The Path of Light) 2000
Lunes Assassines (Killers’ Moon) 2006
La Nuit du Minotaure (The Night of the Minotaur) 2008
Le Testament de Silas Lydecker (The Will of Silas Lydecker) 2009
Spiral 2012

Short story collections:

La Nuit du Loup (The Night of the Wolf) (Nine stories, seven of which are impossible crimes)

La Balle Nausicaa (2011)Nuit du Loup (Nausicaa Ball) (seven more stories – not all impossible crimes)

Uncollected Short Stories

L’Artiste
Un Rendez-Vous aussi Saugrenu
La Chatte noire


References:

A Locked Room Library by John Pugmire

Paul Halter by John Pugmire

‘Locked Room International’ on Facebook

Paul Halter’s Webpage (French)


Go to Paul Halter: Dr. Twist


The Locked Room Mystery home



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