cover image The Double Alibi

The Double Alibi

Noel Vindry, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-984924-11-7

First published in 1934, Vindry’s third puzzle mystery to be translated into English (after 2017’s The Howling Beast) offers a tantalizing setup. At the same time that career criminal Gustave Allevaire steals some family silver from the house of his cousins, the Levalois sisters, in Limonest, he is found stabbed to death miles away, in the supposedly haunted Black House near Marseilles, by a pig farmer who braves entering the building after hearing a blood-curdling scream. Just as series sleuth Monsieur Allou, a magistrate, begins to develop theories to explain this contradiction, he learns that a lawyer friend of his has been retained to represent Allevaire, who has been charged with an attempted theft in Bordeaux—committed exactly when he was both apparently burgling his relatives’ home and being murdered. While the solution is well-reasoned and fair, the ultimate reveal is less of a logical jaw-dropper than in Vindry’s best work. Still, impossible crime fans will be intrigued. (May)