The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux

The Mystery of the Yellow Room (or Le mystère de la chambre jaune in French) by Gaston Leroux was first published in France in the periodical L’Illustration in 1907 and as a book in 1908.

The book has been praised for its originality and is considered to be a pioneer of the locked room mystery genre. My expectations were high after hearing so much about it but The Mystery of the Yellow Room is barely an okay book for me.

The translation is not good. The language is extremely clunky and uncomfortable. I had a difficult time while reading it and had to stop to re-read certain passages to understand their meanings. The maps included in the text are not that helpful either.

Detective Rouletabille is an odd character. He seems over enthusiastic and rude. I at times found him to be quite insufferable. The way he speaks is juvenile to say the least. But that might have something to do with the poor quality of the translation.

Towards the climax the book becomes unbearably melodramatic. The sensational proclamations in the newspaper about Rouletabille’s departure and the letter he left behind, the people’s reaction to all of this, Rouletabille’s dramatic entrance in the final courtroom scene and finally the big secret that the lady had been keeping, it is all so over-the-top that I didn’t know what to make of it.

In the end it is more of a sentimental melodrama (with a little mystery thrown in) than anything else. A disappointing book.

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4 comments

    1. Hi! Thanks for visiting!

      The English translation may have been a problem. Maybe the original French language version of The Mystery of the Yellow Room reads better. But I still didn’t like the really melodramatic tone of the story.

  1. I have this one on my long TBR list. I wonder if I have the same translation as you (cover is different from what you have pictured). I, too, had heard great things about it–I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it.

    1. I hope you have a different translation! This one was a disaster. Although the story is nothing spectacular in itself, the poor translation didn’t help matters either.

      One of my friends liked this one better than I did. I like a good mystery without a lot of romance or melodrama. This one had a certain amount of both.

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