The Howling Beast

Noel Vindry, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-530995-08-0
First published in 1934, Vindry’s second novel to be translated into English featuring examining magistrate Allou (after 2015’s The House That Kills) couples a clever plot with an understated but powerful atmosphere of terror. On a Paris street, a hungry man approaches Allou, who leads him to a nearby restaurant. There the man reveals that he is Pierre Herry, a fugitive wanted for two murders. Herry believes he is innocent, and the magistrate agrees to listen to his version of events, which begins four years earlier when he reunited with Comte Robert de Saint-Luce, a big-game hunter whose life he once saved from a tiger attack. Saint-Luce invites Herry to stay at his chateau near Versailles, where Herry is unsettled to hear the strange howls of some unknown creature at night, a phenomenon that may be tied to one man’s disappearance and, years later, to the two murders. The seeming impossibility of the crimes, as in the best puzzle mysteries, proves to have a simple, logical explanation that few readers will anticipate. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2016
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