cover image The Helm of Hades

The Helm of Hades

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-1-698112-08-4

Halter (The Gold Watch) reinforces his position as the master of impossible crime fiction with this standout collection of 10 short stories. Several entries have a mythological theme, including the title tale, which features Halter’s Oscar Wilde–like sleuth, Owen Burns, and makes use of the legend that whoever wears the helmet of the Greek god of the dead will be invisible. After an archaeologist purportedly finds the headgear, he’s fatally attacked by someone, or something, despite the only entrances to the scene of the assault being either locked or under constant observation. In “The Wolf of Fenrir,” which draws on Norse mythology, someone is killed, apparently by a wild creature imitating the ferocious animal that bit off a god’s hand. And both Robert Chambers, author of The King in Yellow, and H.P. Lovecraft get shout-outs in “The Yellow Book,” in which another series lead, Dr. Alan Twist, must solve a locked-room murder committed after a séance predicted the killing. As always, Halter plays completely fair with his readers, making his expert concealment of clues in the short story format even more impressive. Golden age fans will clamor for more Halter in translation. (Jan.)