Book Review: “The Mystery of the Yellow Room” by Gaston Leroux

I am very happy to write a post about this book because I thought I would never get a chance to read it in the first place! My local library system didn’t have a copy of it, and after searching for awhile, I began to think I’d never find it. Then, you might say, it found me. Granted, it was an ebook, but it was also the story I’d been wanting to read for ages…and it was well worth the wait; it has got to be one of the most intriguing mysteries ever penned. It’s the story of how two journalists, Joseph Rouletabille and Sanclair (who narrates the story), investigate the assault of Mathilde Stangerson, whose father and butler enter her room after hearing her cries of “Help! Murder!” and find her gravely injured. Here’s the catch, though–her door was locked before they entered, and her window was barred, so there was no way for anyone to get into or out of her room without being noticed, yet neither her father nor the butler saw anyone. Intrigued to no end, Rouletabille decides to investigate the case to satisfy his own curiosity, and he brings an equally-curious Sanclair along for the ride. And what a ride it is.

The Mystery of the Yellow Room was Gaston Leroux’s first story with Joseph Rouletabille, and in France he is better known for those novels than for the story that most Americans associate with his name, The Phantom of the Opera. Yet there are a few similarities in the characters, mostly noticeable towards the end. For Erik, we have our would-be murderer (no, I’m not going to tell you who he is! It would spoil everything), a clever and daring man who knows that the best disguise in the world is to have everyone think you’re dead. For Christine Daae, we have Mathilde Stangerson, the focal point of the murderer’s actions. Hopefully without giving away too much, I can say that she was once in love with the murderer but now fears and loathes him–not at all dissimilar to the horror that Christine felt when she discovered that her Angel of Music was a deformed, obsessive, homicidal psychopath. For Raoul de Chagny, we have Robert Darzac, Mathilde’s fiance who has vowed to keep her past involvement with the murderer a secret and to keep her safe at all costs. And for the Persian, we, of course, have Rouletabille.

Long story short: READ IT! IT’S AWESOME! As for me, I’m going to see how many of the sequels I can find. So far I’ve only tracked down one, The Secret of the Night (aka Rouletabille and the Czar), the third book in the Rouletabille series.

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