The Madman’s Room

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-545568-12-5
Halter’s eighth novel featuring criminologist Alan Twist to be translated into English (after The Vampire Tree) brilliantly piles baffling puzzle upon baffling puzzle. In the 19th century, Harvey Thorne isolates himself in his room in the family manor near Cheltenham, England, to write stories that predict the future, one of which accurately foretells the death of his own father. One day relatives find Harvey dying of an unknown cause in his room, which has an unexplained wet spot on its carpet; Harvey correctly prophesies the deaths of these relatives by fire. Harvey’s room is kept sealed after these tragedies until the 1930s, when Harvey’s great-nephew Harris Thorne determines to transform it into a study over the fierce objections of his brother, Brian, who also seems to have clairvoyant abilities and forecasts doom. Twist investigates when, yet again, wet marks on the carpet accompany an inexplicable death. The solution to this richly atmospheric whodunit is elegantly simple. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/26/2017
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