vintage mystery reading challenge 2011

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.

© wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life, 2011-2061. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

The 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge is for me! I mean, not only am I a major mystery fan but I also read a huge amount of books written before the 1960’s. In fact, I don’t enjoy the modern mystery books as much as I do those written before the 60’s.

Under the “In a Murderous Mood” participation level of the 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, the challenge is to read four-six books from the mystery category written before 1960, between January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

Completed Books: 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.

This challenge is hosted by Bev Hankins of My Readers Block.

Completion Post: Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 – Completion

Challenge Completed: 23rd April, 2011.

Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie was first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1956 and by the Collins Crime Club in the UK the same year.

Mrs. Oliver is organizing a game of  ‘murder hunt’  at a country house. Something in the atmosphere makes her feel uneasy, uneasy enough to call her old friend, M. Hercule Poirot. At first Poirot dismisses her unease as merely her imagination. But soon Mrs. Oliver’s intuition proves to be fatally correct as a young girl is found murdered and the lady of the house goes missing.

What I enjoy about this mystery is that how nobody is what they seem to be. The whole plot is based on the actions of duplicitous people.

Dead Man’s Folly is one of those mysteries where things are not clear until the very end. All of the characters and their actions are very mystifying. I found myself suspecting all of them one time or the other.

The characters Sir George and his wife Hattie felt underdeveloped to me. Sir George’s secretary, Miss Brewis, the architect Michael Weyman, Alec Legge and his attractive wife Sally Legge are all stock Christie characters.

Mrs. Folliat is described as being strong but to me it seemed like she is a rather weak sort. I didn’t like her all that much.

I really enjoy the mysteries featuring Mrs. Oliver. She is one of my favourite recurring Christie creations. In this book too she is her usual ‘unusual’ self. Surprisingly, Poirot seems kind of listless in this story. He is not his normal sharp self.

Christie really brought the country home, the Nasse House, to life. It is said to have been based on her Devon home, the Greenway House. It felt like I was actually seeing the place with my own eyes and how easy it would be for someone to commit the murder in a place like that. Kudos to Christie for creating such a realistic atmosphere.

The final revelation left me quite surprised. I had suspected the first part of it but not the second one.

The motive for the murder is not original but the way the whole deception is carried out and the final solution are.

I don’t really enjoy the latter Poirot stories. However Dead Man’s Folly is one of the better late Poirot mysteries. Recommended to all mystery buffs and also as a good place to begin reading Agatha Christie’s works.

© wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life, 2011-2061. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to wutheringwillow and A Paperback Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.