The Howling Beast – Noel Vindry (1934)

Last winter I was blown away by Noel Vindry’s The House that Kills.  It was jam packed with impossible crimes and read at a breakneck pace, and so as I stocked my larder for an end of year glut of “can’t fail me” mystery reads, another Noel Vindry novel came to mind immediately.  I went with The Howling Beast, in part because, well, there are only three available books to choose from, but also because it seems to be the better regarded of his novels that have been translated to English.  Better than The House that Kills?  Sign me up.

While The House that Kills is a breathless sprint of impossible insanity, The Howling Beast is more of a traditional and drawn out detective story.  In fact, although there are some minor mysteries throughout the story, we don’t encounter the marquee crime until the final few chapters.  It’s a fine one though, with two people shot in a locked down castle, under circumstances that fall into the “impossible if we believe the accounts of several additional witnesses” category.  Not quite an impossible crime in my book, but you know that you’re going to get a solution that fits the bill from a novel published by Locked Room International.

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The House That Kills – Noel Vindry (1932)

About two years ago I picked up The House That Kills and The Howling Beast by Noel Vindry, and this year I padded out my collection with The Double Alibi and the somewhat recently released Through the Walls.  So maybe I should actually get around to reading one, right?  I ended up picking The House That Kills due to my love of murderous rooms (see The Madman’s Room, Mr Splitfoot, The Red Widow Murders, etc), despite the fact that I seem to recall some people being critical of the book.

To be clear, this is not really a “room that kills” (err… house that kills) book, despite its name.  There’s no haunted house consuming it’s victims under a shroud of horrors from the past; rather it’s a gang of mysterious strangers terrorizing a family.  But man, it’s an absolutely crazy ride, and I’m so happy that I went with it.

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