The Crimson Fog

Paul Halter, trans. from the French by John Pugmire. Locked Room International (www.lockedroominternational.com), $19.99 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-491244-23-4
First published in France in 1988, this brilliant fair-play mystery from impossible crime master Halter (The Seventh Hypothesis) showcases his ingenuity at misdirecting the reader and his unique approach to the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. In the first part, set in 1887, an openly unreliable narrator, Sidney Miles, returns to his hometown of Blackfield in disguise to solve a murder that “no one, absolutely no one, could have committed.” The stabbing death of Richard Morstan as he was preparing a magic trick behind a curtain has spawned legends of a phantom killer. Miles’s inquiries stir the pot, and other baffling murders follow. This section sets the stage for a suspenseful and historically accurate retelling of the Whitechapel slayings that focuses on the killer’s seemingly supernatural ability to disappear after committing his butcheries. As in the best whodunits, the solution is both logical and surprising. Golden Age fans encountering Halter for the first time will want to seek out his other, equally artful puzzles. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
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