Dara Salley's Reviews > The Mystery of the Yellow Room

The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
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Feb 28, 2011

it was ok
Read from August 09 to 25, 2011

This is the second book I’ve read by Gaston Leroux, the first being The Phantom of the Opera. What recommends Leroux most is his unique style. He was a journalist before becoming an author and he writes his books in the style of a turn of the century press release. There is very little moralizing and few philosophical asides. Instead he mainly sticks to the facts.

My issue with this story is that I found it uninteresting. I really didn’t care to try to figure out the mystery, or find out who the perpetrator was. The only character I found interesting was the victim and she was not given much action in the novel, other than screaming. Outdated notions of propriety caused most of the roadblocks in discovering the identity of the attacker. The writing was very clumsy at times. An example:

“I was interested only in the health of Mademoiselle Strangerson, which was daily improving, when something occurred that is even more mysterious than – than the mystery of The Yellow Room!

‘Impossible!’ I cried, ‘What could be more mysterious than that?’”

I’m not sure if an exchange like that was supposed to be humorous, but I found it very funny and ridiculous.

As a teenager I went through an extended Sherlock Holmes/ Herucle Poriet phase. This novel had the most similarity with Sherlock Holmes. It had a similar crime-solving genius/ confused friend dynamic going on between the two main characters. Similar to Sherlock Holmes, the novel is told from the point of view of the unenlightened friend, who is only given occasional clues as to what his more intelligent companion is thinking. This serves as a handy plot device because it keeps the reader in the dark on many important points until the author sees fit to reveal them. However, Holmes and Watson are infinitely more charismatic characters than the main characters of this novel. It seems unfair to compare Leroux with Arthur Conan Doyle, who is one of the great geniuses of mystery writing, but with all the similarities I found it impossible not to. Perhaps if I had read this novel first, I would have been more impressed.

“Logic will upset you if you use it indiscriminately.” P.58
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