The Phantom Passage

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International (lockedroominternational.com), $19.99 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-511939-92-8
How can an entire street disappear? That seeming impossibility is but one of the challenges Halter sets for Owen Burns in the Oscar Wilde–like sleuth’s ingenious third whodunit translated into English (after 2011’s The Seven Wonders of Crime). One autumn evening in 1902, Ralph Tierney, an American diplomat, bursts into the London rooms of his old friend Owen, to whom he relates a bizarre story. After being mistaken for a fugitive by the police, Ralph fled, only to end up in a shabby passage named Kraken Street, where he encountered a lunatic, a blind man selling grapes, and a lady of the evening, who directed him to enter a building. Later, he emerged and walked to the end of the block, only to find that Kraken Street had vanished. When Owen goes to Scotland Yard, he learns that others have had similar experiences, which include visions of the future. Once again, Halter crafts a completely logical and plausible explanation for the fantastic. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/15/2015
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