cover image The Vampire Tree

The Vampire Tree

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-539139-35-5

First published in French in 1996, this exquisite entry in Halter’s long-running Dr. Alan Twist series (Death Invites You, etc.) couples creepy atmospherics in an unlikely setting—an outwardly placid English village—with a sympathetic but troubled main character. Newlywed Patricia Sheridan is traveling from London by train to the quiet backwater of Lightwood, but after a disconcerting conversation with a stranger, she misses her stop. When Patricia, who has warned her new husband of her unpredictable mood swings, finally makes her way to the Sheridan ancestral home, she has a nightmare about being attacked by the old tree visible from her bedroom. That vision becomes more terrifying after she learns that a supposed vampire was buried under the tree, which was also the site of an impossible murder. Deeper characterizations than Halter’s usual enhance this ingeniously constructed fair-play puzzle, which golden age fans will find hard to put down. [em](Dec.) [/em]