As a child, one of my favourite stories was The Phantom of the Opera, but I only knew it from the musical and a 1990 television miniseries that my mother taped on VHS. I adored the miniseries and would watch it whenever I was home sick from school. I always wondered about the plot differences between the musical and the miniseries, so one day I set out to find the novel and see which was closer to the author’s original intentions. The version that I purchased contained notes about the author, and the one that I always remembered was a sentence mentioning that Gaston Leroux had also written The Mystery of the Yellow Room, considered to be one of the best locked-room mysteries of all time.
Normally, I do not tend towards mysteries, but I enjoyed Leroux’s writing so much that I always intended to find a copy of The Mystery of the Yellow Room. When searching through my local library’s catalog, I typed in the title and was very excited to see that they had it!
A locked-room mystery is one in which a crime occurs under seemingly impossible circumstances–such as a location where no perpetrator could have entered or exited (like a locked room). The Mystery of the Yellow Room was one of the first, featuring Leroux’s young but incredibly talented reporter-turned-investigator, Joseph Rouletabille. He is prominently featured in several of Leroux’s later novels. (The sequel to this novel is The Perfume of the Lady in Black, which I am very interested in!)
This book was originally released as a serial, and new selections included diagrams and maps to assist the reader in trying to unravel the crime. I was happy to see that my edition included these same notes~ (Although I was very much unable to discover the criminal! The ending really surprised me~)
The story centers around an isolated forest estate where a young lady has been brutally attacked–despite the room having been locked from the inside, with a door that opened only to the laboratory her father was still performing research after she had gone to sleep. A young journalist, who has come seeking the full story, gradually unravels the truth. I don’t want to spoil any of the story, so I will just say that Leroux’s writing style is fast-paced–providing full explanations while still moving forward. I found it very enjoyable!
I think that if more mysteries were this intriguing and detailed, I would read them more often~