Friday, August 29, 2014

Hillary Waugh : Madame Will Not Dine Tonight, 1947

About Hillary Waugh I have already spoken on the occasion of the excellent novel republished by Polillo Publisher.
Waugh began, however, as I have already said, with three novels in the classical tradition of Mystery Enigma. It was the first ever written: Madame Will Not Dine Tonight ,1947.
Sheridan Wesley was invited to the home of Valerie King for a dinner. Nothing strange if Valerie King was his acquaintance , but it is not. The invitation is also more strange because to Sheridan, who is a private investigator, was delivered an envelope with an invitation, in which was a hundred-dollar bill and also the demand to bring with him to dinner, an escort: in his case, his wife.
The invitation, which is already strange in itself, acquires even greater significance when the two arrive at the home of Valerie and do not find her waiting for them; instead found a strange company of people: Jimmy Burns, a tabloid journalist; Charley Cromwell, a playboy; James Godfrey, a lawyer; Gloria Van Ryne, a beautiful girl from a good family; the Hammitt spouses. The group of individuals gathered there is all the more strange because they do not know each other- and could even happen that into a party people do not know - but even more strange is when it is clear to Wesley and his wife, that some of them say they had never known before the King: for example spouses Hammitt, Burns and Gloria Van Ryne.
Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for Valerie, but  seems his guests wait her. Sheridan begins to ask questions: the household, the Webbs, say Valerie went to town the day before and  when they are returned at ten o'clock in the morning, already she was not in the house, but she had announced the day before that they would prepare the house for an evening reception, when they would return. And they had done what she  had ordered. However, this revelation seems to be in contrast with what Wesley has discovered: Diana's car is still in the garage. She could not  go to the town from a villa in the countryside without a car! Wesley begins to smell a rat: if at the house she does not seem to be , somewhere else she will stand. Around the villa there is a grove: although it is night, it’s cold and they are dressed in evening gowns, Wesley and Diana walk, illuminating the ground with a flashlight that he always brings in the car. The fact is that after theyhave found on a stretch of land, footprints women's heels, and then a female high-heeled shoe, they find Valerie naked, stabbed and dead , at least since one day.
They return to the villa and they call the police.

The surveys are entrusted to Captain Slocum, who initially distrusts Wesley, thinking abouta red herring, then he gives him credit for (while distrusting him) when he knows that Wesley and the Inspector-in-chief Bradley, of the Homicide Squad of the Police New York, are good friends. As Slocum did stalk Wesley, he  instead of supporting the survey, investigates on his own: first at the opening of the Valerie’s safe , he subtracts from it, a photo among the documents Slocum gave him, an old photo; then in his absence, raids deeper  the study, where he found, communicating by phone to the police about the death of Valerie, tobacco scattered on the carpet and two tins of cigarettes (colored red and green) with the plugs reversed that he had put in place: pondering about the assumption that the spouses Webber and in particular the woman claimed to have thoroughly cleaned the house on Thursday morning before leaving, he concludes that tobacco had to be dropped after, as during a lite, when the jars were opened and the cigarettes were  finished on the carpet. By removing the tobacco, he realizes that there are spots on the carpet flattened, as if for the time it had been leaning over something heavy that he hypothesizes were the legs of the desk; aligning these to the legs of the desk, he realizes the areas of the carpet covered temporarily by the legs have spots, presumably of blood: understanding that is the location where Valerie was killed, he knocks on the walls to try hypothetical secret drawers and finds instead, behind a reproduction of a Corot, the bullet of a .38 impacted behind, that he removes and takes.
After clearing the room, he goes to deliver the bullet to his friend policeman for ballistics, just to know that it comes from the gun of a notorious gangster finished long before the electric chair. Also, doing a search on the newspaper years ago, he dates back to the people portrayed in the photo he has taken away. They are two robbers, Lenny Myers and Joe Freeman: the first, that had a younger sister, Virginia Myers, was executed on electric chair for a murder during a rapine; the second, has escaped from prison and about it, it has not heard anything; Virginia Myers later had changed the name in Valerie King. Along with other clues, including cards and letters kept in the safe, it takes out another portrait of Valerie, not simple wife, betrayed by a husband who solaced with four lovers, who lives with the heritage derived from the divorce from her ex-husband, but blackmailer patented, which blackmailed Cromwell, his former lover, but also probably the lawyer Godfrey, his lawyer in the divorce proceedings; and probably also the former husband. It’s possible she also blackmailed the spouses Hammitt? Freeman at the old photo, older, could be similar to Hammitt? Wesley understand Hammitt is  an escaped convict, who later made ​​a fortune in the industry. Who will never be the murderer? What’s the value of the discovery made by Wesley, together with the discovery of blood stains on the carpet of the study, about  a fragment of a diopter lens?
Madame Will Not Dine Tonight, which was written while Waugh was still in the army, was not very successful. Why ? Probably because it did not create anything new. It would have fascinated unless he repeated some elements of novels published previously: this is the limit of the novel. It 'an honest product, very cleverly written, that mixes the Hard Boiled (the stalking, assault in the night club with fistfight , which hints at many other similar ones, in particular, contained in Headed for a Hearse by Jonathan Latimer: the femme fatale, as opposed to his wife, who wants to get with the sex the fixed result and when she doesn’t get it, she produces in a waft of obscenities longshoreman) with the deductive Mystery (the blood on the carpet, which mocks a novel by Ellery Queen, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, the diopter lens route and the exchange of cigarette boxes, clues linked to color blindness, which makes the verse to another novel by Ellery Queen, The Greek Coffin Mystery, and always to this novel by Ellery Queen it may refer Waugh, with regard to the artistic side of Godfrey, since as in the novel by Queen there’s the painter's forger Grimshaw, here is the lawyer Godfrey who is also an accomplished artist; the blackmail, theme already deepened in many other novels; and also in several previous novels, there is the indication of the false footprint  to sidetrack the investigation) according to a specified path already own by Jonathan Latimer or Craig Rice.
Then Waugh adds very personal themes, which are obtained associating once again, as so often happens in the first few novels by a particular author, the own personal story to that of his hero. It is no coincidence, for example, the wife of Wesley, is called Diana, as the wife of Hillary Waugh, and the lawyer Godfrey dabbles in prints being an accomplished artist, as the same Hillary Waugh was designer.
A novel, however, we read in one breath, supported by excellent dialogues. However, the offender can be easily identified on the basis of the projectile analyzed, a long time ago.
In practice, there is no surprise in the final (we speak of course about the novel read by avid readers), because the offender can not be that one person!

Pietro De Palma

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hillary Waugh - Sleep Long My Love, 1959

Recently came out in italian bookstores, signed by Hillary Waugh, "Dormi bene amore mio", Sleep Long My Love, 1959, in the series of Polillo Publisher.
Who was Hillary Waugh?  
Hillary Baldwin Waugh was called and he was born in 1920 in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated in 1942 from Yale University, and then he enlisted in the Air Force USAF: just as he lent military service, he thought of writing a novel, his first, Madame Will Not Dine Tonight in 1947. After having published two more novels without much success, in 1949 he turned his attention from the Mystery enigma - genre that had raged in the thirties and early forties to the so-called "Procedural", a novel in which the survey is conducted by a police , following tracks, interviews, formulating hypotheses, abandoning them, etc. .. until you find the culprit. His first novel, the change was the dazzling Last Seen Wearing ... which was published in 1952, followed by many others.

Waugh, also named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, has died at age 88, in 2008

Sleep Long My Love is a black novel , but most black that you can not.
Even here the characteristic of Waugh emerges forcefully: a beginning of the novel absolutely surprising, as well as the final unsettling were the characteristic of Brown. But I'm not talking about the Prologue, but just the beginning of the novel.
In the Prologue there is a dialogue between a man and a woman, two lovers. He is tired of her, but she haunts him, begged him, and finally threatening him with the story that she is pregnant by him. A threat as old as the world, for a married man who lives an extramarital affair only as carnal fun without wanting to break up with his first wife, becomes the motive for murder.
So far nothing special. It’s the beginning of the novel instead that  is unsettling!  Mr. Watly, an employee of a real estate company that rents houses, finds broken the glasses of his office. He Suspects a theft but he can not find anything that was stolen, except ... of leases from the archives?
One steals money, shares, securities,  jewelry, but never you heard that someone has stolen rental contracts. Yet it is so.  But Fred Fellows, police chief at Stockfords, does not think so. It begins to dig, to analyze all the rents and eventually focuses on short-term contracts. Restlin, the owner of the estate agency speaks about a certain Campbell who had rented a nice big house for a month, and would be available soon; Watly only that you had taken the day before a buyer, Brunnell, but had found the house deserted and the door closed.

Fellows and his sergeant Sidney Wilks go with other agents, and immediately feel a strange odor that can not identify. The house is uninhabited, clean and put in order. Nothing strange, except two suitcases with two gold initials "JS" in the entrance, almost forgotten.
Bare rooms, clean bathrooms but one with the foam in the bottom of the tank, and a freezing cold inside the house. You die from the cold, and already it is in February, February 26. But for most of the heating is off. Restlin launches desperate in the basement where there’s the boiler and you can hear his cries: someone has left turn off the boiler, not shutting off the water meter and so the pipes have frozen and they have erupted.
Fellows enter into all the rooms and finds nothing, absolutely nothing. Then he goes down to the cellar. But why in the basement? Yes, because in the cellars of the abandoned houses are hidden secrets. I remember the good Carr (he intended about Gothic literature), in It Walks By Night, in a wall of the cellar it had been hiding a decomposing body. No, here. decomposing bodies hidden in walled niches there are none. But there is a trunk. Other topos of the novels blacks. When you find a chest, you can be sure that inside there is always something interesting: Agatha Christie reveals a rotting corpse in a trunk, in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; Alfred Hitchcock conceals one inside a chest and then over there prepares the table for a cocktail party in Rope; Michael Gilbert hides a decomposing body in a trunk, in his masterpiece, Smallbone Deceased; even the French writer Pierre MacOrlan (one of the pseudonyms of the great Pierre Dumarchey, author of the ever remembered enough Quai des Brumes, the novel from which Marcel Carné drew the eponymous film masterpiece with Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan) in Le tueur numéro deux hides a corpse in a trunk; and even “The Jackal” at Forsyth's novel, when he kills the forger of passports that wants to extort more money by threatening to reveal to those who have provided them, he hides the body in a chest.
Do you want to see that in the chest, in the basement of the abandoned house, there is a corpse?
Initially clothes, shoes, but then find a trunk of a body who has been partially preserved from the cold by the decomposition, from which lack the upper and lower limbs and the head. Where will the killer have hidden them ever ? 

Since at the boiler they find are a strange ash, not charcoal, it is assumed now that it is the missing part of the body. As you can never identify the body?
First, the investigations aim to identify who sent the trunk, because you know it is the trunk of a dead woman, but you can not find out anything important. Then just out of curiosity by Fellows who finds on a notebook  strange signs as products from a torn piece of paper above, he fails with an empirical method, to know a name "Jane Sherman" and her address. He convinces himself that are the true data of the killed woman. But when he went to the woman's house, he finds in front of her, alive and well. And then from the dialog that follows, almost questioning, he realizes that the Sherman is a dissatisfied woman, never looked at by men, that one day he met a man in a train, in respect of which she felt a strong physical attraction, so much to go with him to a house and spend the night with him. She reveals that all the rooms were open except one, and only after that Fellows tells her about the murder, she understands she has been one step away from discovering a dead body in it and ending up in the same way. Oh my God! A murderess kills a woman and then goes in search of another, he seduces her, leads her  in the same house with the corpse still warm in a room, and he makes love with her !
Fellows understood to be looking for a monster, which is a common man, so common as to be impregnable because John Campbell is an invented name.
 Everything is probed but in vain: we look for someone who may has come from some neighboring country, maybe he has a double life. A neighbor said that this guy was living with a reserved woman, arrived in the afternoon and then went away in the evening. Fellows is convinced that the murderer is a traveling salesman, but in spite of all searches, he is only able to arrest an innocent man, a salesman of vacuum cleaners with the hobby of carnal adventures with unsatisfied housewives. Only when Fellows ask the help of dentists and ask them if they have patients with the initials "JS", he takes the right path and he can figure who is the victim.
And after a patient and meticulous investigative work ... he does not call for any result worthy of note. So, he restarts from zero: from the theft of contracts; by the visit of Watly and Brunnell to the empty house; from the attempt to burn the body, which were subtracted awkwardly and by untrained bodies, fearing the woman's pregnancy, before at the boiler and then when it had gone through negligence, in the chimney of the house: to it was due the l strange and disturbing smel, since from having tried to burn the body in the fireplace. Fellows by the fact that the trunk had not been made ​​to disappear, he realizes that someone must have disturbed the murderer at the performance of the perfect crime.
He will be able to nail down the murderer only with an idea, extreme in its conception, just making a subtle reasoning and conceiving a solution to the limit of the imagination, in a dazzling finale.
Truly extraordinary novel, Sleep Long My Love is a Procedural tight, engrossing, with a tension increasing, which finds its main points in a plot just perfect: a murderer who is not, a shadow in the night; a victim unrecognizable; the weapons: a carving knife and a butcher knife found burned in the fireplace; the absence of fingerprints, signatures of tracks. Only the meticulous investigation of the police, that does not leave out anything, that does not shrink at nothing, that taking false leads, false stops murders, fails to stop the true killer; and when it is in doubt whether you can prove premeditated murder, how  thinks Fellows about, instead of manslaughter as supposed Wilk about, just a mistake of the murderer, who claims to have bought the weapons only after the woman's death had happened at a day that Fellows discovers  to have been not working but festive , will deliver the truth, and the novel ends as it began: with an attribution to the murder, of premeditated murder.
The technique followed by Waugh, an author whose magnitude is still far from being accepted and recognized in Italy, and whose many distant traces remain, but few recent ones, is to present all the clues together, not giving emphasis to them, much less to that specific, so that despite being very fair with the reader, at the same time he submits the clue, he hides the most poisonous effects resulting from it. Only at the end, he will refer, drawing the question on which rotates the whole affair: why did the murderer stop the destruction of the corpse, if anyone in the neighborhood had experienced anything strange, or if anyone had smelled the stench that radiated around?
Only by giving answer to this question you will be able to give a twist to the story and to catch the murderer.

I have been able to develop the same reasoning of Fellows and to nail the same murderer before he be revealed by Waugh.
The murderer is the most unexpected of the story and at the same time the most plausible.
he recalls a famous novel by Agatha Christie as the murderer is presented to the readers.
More than that, it needless to say.
The psychology of the novel is taken to its best, the portraits of the people involved are in the round; and there is a certain sensitivity and a certain sadness to tell the mournful events, that takes away the mystery from the certainties of the puzzles aseptic thirties, instead of sinking it in the mist and the blood of Crime Story. In some ways, also here, the victim is at the bottom an executioner and the executioner a victim: if the victim did not not threatened the murderer to reveal his relationship to wife of him, she would still be alive and he would not have become a murderer.
And to dominate the story, it is the Fate, the only winner, inscrutable: it causes the murder.  It causes the Simpson to lead to extreme her threat; it takes Campbell to premeditate the death of the woman, or rather her missing. But the Fate leads to occupe about the case  is not just a cop, but an heir to the great tradition of the 30s, a Poirot, a Fell or even better, a Appleby, the only one who can (except the ultra-shrewd reader) making some reasoning and unmasking the murderer. Detector is also the theft of contracts, which, however, could not be consumed.
Moreover, the murderer is a mile away from those wicked cool or smart by Ellery Queen or by Carr or by Agatha Christie: here is a man who only under the aura of mimesis of which he is equipped, he is unable to believe be rescued; but then demonstrates his fragility, in his sobs and in his tears, at the end.
And there is an exquisite sensitivity in analyzing the American province, and the ill-concealed tendencies of depressed men who are victims of social degradation and the lack of any value in which to believe, in the face of another society dominated by the myth of the "Self Made Man ", and the ill-concealed tendencies of depressed women in their lack of hope for a better life, crushed by the absence of leadership roles reserved for them only in promoting social and refugees at being married or however loved, even if only for one night. So the twoJ.S.” of the story, the Jean Sherman, small-town girl, devoted to her father ill, who by virtue of his condition she can not enjoy the close proximity of men, in short, a virtuous maiden, and Joan Simpson who has given, or believed to have given a twist to her own life, finding a young love, which will lead instead to the death, if they are united by the initials, instead run through two paths parallel but very different: they both made sex with the murderer, but while the first saves herself of the because she is content of the love’s night not having or having a few doubts that the man will never see again from her, because she will continue to live everyday life with his father sick (an example all positive), the second ends up murdered and mutilated by her will to try to stretch to infinity in opposite a story that it is already over, in his desire not to settle for what is offered, looking with her feminine wiles to rape a husband and wife situation of others, replacing it with her own (a negative example in her lack of virtue).
Maybe that old proverb "He who is content, enjoys" is still valid?
Waugh flaunts the murderer under the nose more than once and meanwhile leads the can for air.
And the question he makes, "A challenge to the reader" implicit, that it is why the murderer knew he would be disturbed, it is a blow: it is as if it was the only chance that he offers to the reader to figure out the enigma before the final solution.
Truly a magnificent novel !

Pietro De Palma

Friday, August 22, 2014

Noël Vindry : Le Piège aux diamants, 1933

 "Reader Beware: SPOILERS"

Noel Vindry is a historical figure of the French enigma  novel to and in particular of the Locked Room.
Born in 1896 in Haute-Savoie and died in Paris in 1954, he, a lawyer and then a judge, created a character in which he transfused his own business, giving it a great calm, reflection and ability to thoroughly analyze a problem; a great culture, combined with a love for good food; and making it a great pipe smoker. In essence, at the character of the judge Allou you can easily notice the letters of  at least six great detective, before his appearance. Vindry handed thirteen published novels, with the judge Allou, all locked room. Of these, very few have been reprinted in modern times, and in the market of antiques and collectibles books, the Vindry’s novels being hard to find , they are also quite expensive.
It’s good to anticipate here that the protagonist of Le Piège aux diamonds is not so much the Judge Allou, the protagonist of the novels, as his colleague Dampierre, in charge of the investigation. Allou, appears at a later time, as in the first novel by Carter Dickson with HM, and then becomes the "deus ex machina" of the reconstruction and the final solution.
The main actors in the drama are three members of a company port: Flavio Dancour, his brother Paul and André Caroux. The original owner is Flavio but soon realizing that he had undertaken a task beyond his strength, he is associated with a friend and his brother Paul. The two, to enrich themselves behind the ingenuous Flavio, fraudulently make sure that his business go to hell and longer grant him a loan that they know will never be honored. So, soon, against Flavio is issued an arrest warrant for fraudulent bankruptcy. Only in extremis his brother Paul repents, and also if he is miserly and stingy, he gives his support of seventy-five thousand francs to Flavio and the possibility of escape by speedboat, since for the French law,  the domicile was inviolable from dusk until dawn:  then Dalcour, unless he deliver him to the police, he will be arrested at dawn, and until that time the commissioner Laurent and agents will surround the house to prevent any person who was in that house, to get out without being they intercepted. During the siege, Flavio will be seen looking out of the window and answer the call to police to surrender and he will be seen by an agent, climbed right under the window, before sitting at a table, then at a second time, on the ground. The fact is that before it is seen on the ground, you can hear clear a gunshot, then saw the body of Flavio is on the ground and then you are inclined to think that he killed himself. Instead, all is not well.
In fact, despite the shooting, the police did not enter  at the house because the door is provided with lock detail. However, they see a car approaching more and more: is Dr. Rufare, a friend of the victim, who frightened by the sound of footsteps at the house he asked him to come right away. However, no one can be released, because there is a police cordon around. But when they enter, and they find Dacour lying on the ground, the doctor, visiting him attests that he was killed with a blunt instrument that fractured his skull. While the doctor is visiting the body, the police and the inspector search the house, while the son of the doctor is on the doorstep, unable to bear the sight of a corpse.
They do not find anybody. Neither the gun. Nobody can be escaped, because the output was manned by Pierre, the son of Rufare.
So what? How did the murderer to escape?
To first mystery , others mysteries add.
The doctor says he saw in Dalcour’s home,  5 wonderful  blue brights, estimated three hundred thousand francs, which the victim had apparently hoped to take away with him. But the 5 brilliant are not: they were in a box of iron, which opened with a device to be activated by a secret  mechanism. But brights and litter box are not: the crime is the result of a theft? The murderer is the thief?
The police examines the housemaid of Dalcour grown from a few days to service of Caroux: she may have been to steal the diamonds. The police did not believe her words and stops her. The fact is that the police is convinced there are two culprits: the murderer and Janet Arlaud, the maid. Why the fingerprints found on a silver candlestick, do not belong to any of the suspects, nor to Janet ?
A few days later, was found dead Paul Dalcour, brother of Flavio: it was found in his poor room (he was not poor, but lived as a poor man for not spending money) closed from the inside, asphyxiated by gas; on the table a letter in which he proclaims himself murderer of his brother. Only that the fingerprints on the lamp are not his
Raises another important fact now: Flavio, eight days before his death he had sold the diamonds to his brother Paul, in exchange for a check for two hundred and fifty francs. Why then Rufare said to have seen them at the home of Flavio? While the housemaid says he does not see at least two more weeks, the time would coincide with the sale of the same? Flavio not sold them, and then the news is false, or Flavio sold them and Rufare lied. But why? Rufare be unrelated to the crime: it was found the phone call from his friend was made. Why Dalcour would call his own murderer? But then how would he kill him, if he there was not  when Dalcour died? No, it is an assumption that does not hold. Rufare must be stranger.
How unusual and a source of doubt is the matter of Paul Dalcour. Why he would be declared responsible for the death of his brother if he had given a check for two hundred and fifty francs, compared with five brilliant? And even more strange is the matter of the murder: why would have been killed if he had not already more diamonds? Perhaps the killer did not know, a killer still unknown in the affair.
A new twist explodes. The police received an anonymous phone call, and listens for two thieves who have completed a burglary in the apartment and the house is of Caroux: they are taking away a litter box, which is recognized by Rufare, like that of his friend Dacour. After having made her break into, there are inside, dipped in cotton wool, five brilliant blue. Possible consequence? If Caroux had the brilliants, it is clear that he is the murderer. It always raises the question: how did he make? Caroux is stopped: thief and murderer are the same person. Or so it would seem.
But a new upheaval happens: the five brightest, analyzed, are fake: why Caroux would kill Dalcour? For five blue false brilliant ? Caroux did not know it? And why had Dalcour 5 fake brilliants, the real ones when he sold to his brother, now missing?
A jeweler presents and spontaneously over to the police a bright, which was purchased by him at the home of an old hag, the housekeeper of Paul Dalcour, Natalie.  In short, a new character enters the story: what is her role?
How did she get hold of brilliant? Possible that his master, miserly and stingy even on his deathbed (he went to bed early so as not to consume the light, and saved money about the ink and the nib, and used as letterhead that obtained from other sheets already used) he said this to her, and he trusted her so much?
Caroux before he declares alien to each other, then calls into question Rufare and Janet. Rufare, when pressed, reveals the true purpose by Dalcour, who had "forced" to stay rather than flee immediately: to grope a scam, selling his friend, but also member of Caroux in financial transactions on the edge of legality, the five pieces of glass cleverly counterfeited.
The investigations are at stalemate, because if it is true that Caroux was arrested on charges of theft, there is no evidence that he killed Dalcour, nor the police have evidence to prove it.
Enters the scene at this point the judge Allou, a friend of a cousin of Judge Dampierre, who, not wanting to humiliate his colleague, he prefers to be the one to deduce, after collecting the evidence. Allou is already well known for having brilliantly solved the unsolved cases of Locked Room. After he has asked questions that no one had place (Dalcour had a life insurance? Who made the call to police that he allowed to block the two thieves? Really are the brilliants the motive of the murder?) Allou causes the action of his colleague. The investigations identify the mysterious informant in the person of Dr. Rufare: how did he know that Caroux had stolen the diamonds? Rufare is included in the investigation, the fingerprints are taken, and hi..these fingerprints are those found on the candelabra. Reversal of the situation: Caroux is no longer the murderer, but only the thief; Rufare is the murderer. But how did  he make? And why did Paul Dalcour declare himself the brother’s killer?
Allou offers his truth: Rufare would not kill but only attempted extortion. But then who was it? And how did he do? In a succession of pyrotechnic events and revelations, Allou identifies the murderer, the role of an accomplice, the mystery of the disappearing of the gun, of other four brilliant and of the check of two hundred fifty thousand francs.  
Pyrotechnical novel, it offers a continuous inversion of roles and situations, coming at the end of the novel to propose a shocking hypothesis: is the murder a murder? Or is it a suicide? And the suicide is real or is it a homicide? The all being able to reconstruct exactly the story and the role of each protagonist. The continuous turbillon of events, revelations and contra revelations that cancel the previous, create a disorientation of the reader who, captivated by events, is unable to understand anything. Truly, an extraordinary novel !
Moreover, the involvement of Rufare in the story is expressed in a sham: the steps that Dalcour had heard, they are  just a red herring, for ... But why? How is not he the murderer if on the candlestick there were his prints? But did Dalcour die by a skull’s fracture or not? And why did Rufare certify the death by Dalcour? And why did the autopsy reveal the true fracture? A lot of questions !
Let us remember that the novel, the third in the succession of twelve by Vindry, is of 1933.
In 1941, Agatha Christie will give to the story a novel that will be remembered  and will affect all the gender: Evil Under The Sun. Do you remember the trick of the novel? Well, I think the basic idea is brought forward in this, neither more nor less. Possible that Christie has adapted the idea by Vindry, modifying her plot? Very possible, I would say, i.e. strangely also that from a novel by Steeman, Six hommes morts,  finds itself in her masterpiece, Ten Little Niggers, and in that by Bristow & Manning, The Invisible Host.
In my opinion we should analyze the work of Christie in light of the influence by the French novel. No coincidence that she recognized the enormous influence that gave to her ambition to write novels, Le mystère de la chambre jaune  by Gaston Leroux. In fact, the ascertainment of death in the novel by Agatha Christie leads to a series of consequences, because death has not yet occurred; while in the novel by Vindry the death occurred, but the finding of it, it is carried out with a different procedure consequential. However, the basic idea is the same: a false assessment carried out on a dead body and  that does the investigating person when he dismissed the present.
And Vindry? Undoubtedly already in this novel we find a theme hewill use in one of his later masterpieces, La Bête hurlante: the fact that the house is surrounded by a cordon of police determines that it is impossible that the murderer was able to escape. But we also find features related to other French novelists of the period: the fact that the center of the plot there is not a psychological characterization of the characters but the enigma: it’s the enigma, the center of everything, around which moves the story. In  itself the psychological characterization is almost nothing and also the smallness of the actors of plot makes the action focuses exclusively on the history, a procedure which is also shown by Boileau. It 's obvious that Vindry is raised in a manner antithetical to Simenon, for which,  instead, the enigma is not the focus of the story but only one piece, and the center of everything instead is the psychology of the characters.
For the specialist in crime fiction Roland Lacourbe, Vindry is the French equivalent of John Dickson Carr.
I think otherwise. In my opinion, Vindry more than to be the equivalent of John Dickson Carr, he is the equivalent of  Clayton Rawson. As Clayton Rawson in the atmosphere is not the best, so it happens in the novels by Vindry, where yet the quality of the plot and the solution are of the highest quality, of extreme virtuosity. Almost more than in Carr, as happens for example in my opinion in the novels by Rawson.
If Vindry is close to Carr, his character Mr. Allou is close above to  Bencolin and this can be inferred from a fact: Vindry began writing in 1931, while the first novel of Carr is from 1930 In both, the protagonist is a judge, even more juge d 'instruction: he solves the mystery. The first Bencolin’s adventures among which, the first novel,  are Locked Rooms[1]: by which cases does Allou occupe?  Locked rooms. Vindry is cloose to Carr and Rawson also for another matter:  to arrive to a solution, they (but also Boileau) reverse the situation and the thinking. Gideon Fell, Merlini and Allou have the ability to break away from the real world and look at the sequence of events as if their spirit had soared astrally, breaking away from the materiality of earthly events.
However, when this reversal of perspective happens, it also increases the virtuosity of the investigation. In the moment in which Allou takes into account a different solution, it doesn’t happen that the effects are more linear but the opposite. So in his investigation to prove incontrovertibly a certain fact and arrive at a plausible solution, instead of simplifying things, they tend to become more complex. It follows that the reasoning to solve all should be of the highest quality.
I also get a quote from Chesterton, in the novel of Vindry. In fact, the letter in which Paul accuse himself of being the murderer of his brother is actually a fragment of a longer letter, properly cut, as in The Wrong Shape, at The Innocence Of Father Brown by Gilbert Chesterton.

We must say, however, that Vindry, unlike Agatha Christie and once again as Carr and Rawson, he does not cheat in anything the reader: the framework of the facts is absolutely what is before the eyes de judge, what changes is the perspective from which he is looking at the problem and the ability to imagine, moving away from the real.
And in some ways Vindry, realizes something of his own, a feature very personal, in his to make difficult the easy thing: unlike all the common detectives who seek in every way to simplify the sequence of events, reducing the factors to a minimum, Vindry realizes an absurdum: explain the unexplainable, making it even more abstruse and denser of recondite implications, and at the same time explaining and giving to the whole,  a meaning.

Pietro De Palma

[1] Pietro De Palma:
The first works with Bencolin : The Shadow of the Goat (1926), The Fourth Suspect (1927), The Ends of Justice (1927), The Murder in Number Four (1928); and a short novel: Grand Guignol (1929) by John Dickson Carr