cover image The Picture from the Past

The Picture from the Past

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International (, $19.99 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-502301-81-9

Halter (The Tiger’s Head) neatly intertwines three distinct plot lines in this absorbing entry in his long-running crime series featuring Dr. Alan Twist. In 1959 Essex, England, Twist and Chief Insp. Archibald Hurst of Scotland Yard find the gruesome remains of the third victim of a killer who dissolves his victims’ corpses in acid. Meanwhile, Londoner John Braid, a man who lies to his wife about his employment, is obsessed with a photo used for a banal romance novel’s cover. The image depicts a “perfectly ordinary street. A row of modest brick houses, a small shop with its owner at the door.” Under hypnosis, John mutters something about a “few notes of music,” a “mauve flower,” and death, leaving the reader to puzzle out the connection with a narrative set some years before the main action involving three men in black and a locked-room murder. The fair-play resolution will delight fans of impossible crimes. (Jan.)