gaston leroux

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 – Completion

I participated on the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 hosted by the wonderful Bev Hankins of My Readers Block. My participation level was “In a Murderous Mood” where one had to read four-six books from the mystery category written before 1960,

I completed the challenge last month.

We had been told that we’ll be receiving prizes beforehand and I was pretty excited about it. And as promised I received The Crooked Hinge by John Dickson Carr.

For a mystery buff like me this is truly exciting! So, here’s a big ‘Thank you’ to Bev!

Books Completed:

1. Dead Man’s Folly. Agatha Christie.

2. The Mystery of the Yellow Room. Gaston Leroux.

3. The Circular Staircase. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

4. The Murder at the Vicarage. Agatha Christie.

5. Plot It Yourself . Rex Stout.

6. The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Agatha Christie.

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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