The Mystery of the Yellow Room is one of the earliest examples of a locked room mystery. It’s by French author, Gaston LeRoux and is the first in a series of novels starring a young reporter-turned-detective, Joseph Rouletabille. This copy is technically P’s, but he was very happy to lend it to me and let me read it. He was even good enough not to spoil the ending for me because he’s nice like that.
The story opens with young Joseph being sent to investigate the attempted murder of Mathilde Stangerson. He brings his lawyer friend Sainclair and it’s Sainclair’s voice that tells the story, much like Watson tells the stories of Holmes’s brilliance. Mathilde has been attacked, in spite of her room being locked on the inside, someone got in and out, and she is lucky to have escaped with her life.
Further attempts are made on Mathilde’s life, even while Joseph and a second detective, not to mention Mathilde’s father, her suitor and the household staff, are keeping an extra vigilant eye. No doubt her attacker is dangerous and intelligent and, it seems, Mathilde must have some idea of who the attacker is, but is clearly not in a position to name them.
Joseph follows the clues, occasionally getting confused, but mostly using cold clear logic and deductive reasoning. Much like Holmes, he takes the approach that once one has eliminated the impossible, what remains must be the truth. It’s very enjoyable reading about him steadily unravelling the mystery and there are plenty of suspenseful moments and twists and turns.
I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the Conan Doyle novels, but if you’re a fan of a mystery, then Gaston LeRoux is a must read.