Paul Halter

Paul Halter.jpg

Born: Alsace, France, 19 June 1956

French writer of impossible crimes, inspired by John Dickson Carr.


My thoughts on Halter  in Mysterical-E, 2007:

Halter is very uneven.  He has often been proclaimed as the heir to John Dickson Carr, and works like La septième hypothèse, Le diable de Dartmoor, and L’image trouble are hyper-ingenious detective stories in the grand tradition.

He has a brilliant knack for thinking up situations – a keeper burnt to death in an inaccessible lighthouse in the middle of a storm, a maharajah assassinated in his palace behind three locked doors.  Often, though, the solutions are disappointing.  Some are mechanical; others are poorly motivated, not integrated into the story, or rely on the victims doing the psychologically impossible.

His worldview is bleak and cynical, and his characterization is often mediocre.  He is very fond of epilogues in which characters innocent of murder are revealed to be guilty of some other crime, and receive their comeuppance.  Others suffer from “Ripperomania”: an unhealthy obsession with Jack the Ripper and his crimes, or from making the the roguish if likeable protagonist a cold-blooded psychopath. This device recurs with depressing frequency in his novels.


Works

  1. La Malédiction de Barberousse (1986; Dr. Twist)
  2. La Quatrième porte (1987; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Fourth Door)
  3. Le Brouillard rouge (1988; translated into English as The Crimson Fog)
  4. La Mort vous invite (1988; Dr. Twist; translated into English as Death Invites You)
  5. La Mort derrière les rideaux (1989; Dr. Twist)
  6. La Chambre du fou (1990; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Madman’s Room)
  7. La Tête du tigre (1991; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Tiger’s Head)
  8. La Septième Hypothèse (1991; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Seventh Hypothesis)
  9. La Lettre qui tue (1992)
  10. Le Diable de Dartmoor (1993; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Devil of Dartmoor)
  11. Le Roi du Désordre (1994; Owen Burns; translated into English as The Lord of Misrule)
  12. À 139 pas de la mort (1994; Dr. Twist)
  13. L’Image trouble (1995; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Picture from the Past)
  14. Le Cercle invisible (1996; translated into English as The Invisible Circle)
  15. L’Arbre aux doigts tordus (1996; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Vampire Tree)
  16. Le Crime de Dédale (1997)
  17. Les Sept Merveilles du crime (1997; Owen Burns; translated into English as The Seven Wonders of Crime)
  18. Le Géant de pierre (1998)
  19. Le Cri de la sirène (1998; Dr. Twist)
  20. Meurtre dans un manoir anglais (1998)
  21. L’Homme qui aimait les nuages (1999; Dr. Twist; translated into English as The Man Who Loved Clouds)
  22. Le Mystère de l’allée des Anges (1999; Dr. Twist)
  23. Le Chemin de la lumière (2000)
  24. La Nuit du loup (2000; short stories; translated into English as The Night of the Wolf)
  25. L’Allumette sanglante (2001; Dr. Twist)
  26. Les Douze Crimes d’Hercule (2001; Owen Burns)
  27. La Toile de Pénélope (2001; Dr. Twist)
  28. Les fleurs de Satan (2002)
  29. Le Tigre borgne (2004)
  30. Les Larmes de Sibyl (2005; Dr. Twist)
  31. La Ruelle fantôme (2005; Owen Burns; translated into English as The Phantom Passage)
  32. Lunes assassines (2006)
  33. La chambre d’Horus (2007; Owen Burns)
  34. La nuit du minotaure (2008)
  35. Le testament de Silas Lydecker (2009)
  36. Les meurtres de la salamandre (2009; Dr. Twist)
  37. La corde d’argent (2010; Dr. Twist)
  38. La balle de Nausicaa (2011; short stories)
  39. Spiral (2012)
  40. Le voyageur du passé (2012; Dr. Twist)
  41. La Tombe indienne (2013; Dr. Twist)
  42. Le Masque du vampire (2014; Owen Burns)