cover image The Gold Watch

The Gold Watch

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-798567-28-9

Whodunit devotees will relish French author Halter’s tantalizing fourth mystery featuring amateur detective Owen Burns to be translated into English (after 2015’s The Phantom Passage). In a prologue set in 1901 London, a woman is apparently killed outside her home after her gold watch falls out of her pocket. Flash forward to 1991. In a French village near Fontainebleau, playwright André Lévêque seeks help identifying a film he saw at a friend’s house when he was 10, whose story seems to match the circumstances of the 1901 crime. And in the winter of 1911, Victoria Sanders, the owner of a fabric importing company, has invited guests to her English country house. Burns investigates after someone takes a fatal fall on the house’s snowy grounds. Since the only footprints in the snow near the body are the victim’s, it appears the death—from impact with a rock—was accidental. That the deceased was reading Robert Chambers’s macabre classic, The King in Yellow, could be a clue to foul play. Halter links everything logically, further burnishing his reputation as a modern master of the impossible crime mystery. (June)