Noël Vindry (1896 – 1954)

Noël Vindry was a French crime writer born on 13 July 1896 in Lugrin, Haute-Savoie. He came from an old Lyon family from whom he inherited his passion for culture and gourmet cuisine. Shortly after acquiring a bachelor’s degree he enlisted in the army, where he fought with distinction, earning a Croix de Guerre, but was released from active service in 1915 due to  severe lung damage. During his long convalescence he studied and mastered law sufficiently to become a deputy juge d’instruction (examining magistrate)—a position unique to countries practising the Napoleonic Code, whereby a single jurist is given total authority over a case, from investigating crime scenes to questioning witnesses; from ordering the arrest of suspects, to preparing the prosecution’s case, if any. He was appointed to serve in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France which, at the time, boasted the second largest Appeals Court outside of Paris, and which he chose because of its climate. He drew on his personal experience to create his recurring hero, Justice Allou. (Several sources)

Noël Vindry is unknown outside France yet he wrote thirteen novels, most of which were impossible crimes. He prided himself on his strict adherence to Golden Age rules and was in that sense the antithesis of Simenon, whose work he detested.  His detective is Monsieur Allou, an examining magistrate – a feature of the French criminal justice system whereby a single individual is given total authority over a case, from investigating crime scenes to questioning witnesses to ordering the arrest of suspects to preparing the prosecution’s case.  Allou is a deliberately dry figure about whom we learn almost nothing; his cases provide all the colourful interest. (John Pugmire)

According to Boileau-Narcejac, Noël Vindry ‘invented astounding puzzles and displayed unequalled virtuosity.’ For crime novelist Roland Lacourbe, Vindry is the French-speaking equivalent of John Dickson Carr, and for Igor Longo ‘the French Ellery Queen’. From 1948, under the pseudonym of Rochebrune, he published sentimental novels. In 1953, he returned in parallel to the detective story to create a new character, the private detective Igor Alex, hero of a trilogy of a different tone, published under his own name in Le Masque collection. Vindry died on 3 May 1954 in Paris. (Several sources)

Monsieur Allou bibliography: La Maison qui tue, 1931 (English title: The House That Kills, 2015); Le Loup du Grand-Aboy, 1932; La Fuite des morts, 1933(Spanish title: La Huida de los Muertos, Ed. Hymsa. 1.935); Le Piège aux diamants, 1933; Le Fantôme de midi, 1934 (Spanish title: El fantasma del mediodía, Ed. Hymsa. 1.935); La Bête hurlante, 1934 (Spanish title: La bestia que aúlla, Ed. Hymsa. 1.935) (English title: The Howling Beast, 2016); L’Armoire aux poisons, 1934 (Spanish title: El armario de los venenos, Ed. Hymsa. 1.935); Le Collier de sang, 1934 (Spanish title: El collar de sangre, Ed. Hymsa. 1.936); Le Cri des mouettes, 1934; Le Double Alibi, 1934 (English title: The Double Alibi, 2018); Masques noirs, 1935; À travers les murailles, 1937; and Les Verres noirs, 1938.

Further reading:

metadata-image-24292665Synopsis: Gustave Allevaire is on the run, guilty of a number of petty crimes. He is spotted in Lyon, and that night he steals his aunt’s silverware. On the very same night, five hundred kilometres away in Bordeaux, he is identified during a break-in. Meanwhile he is murdered in Marseille, seven hundred kilometres away. All in the same night, and all at exactly the same time, in three cities hundreds of kilometers apart. How is this possible? Monsieur Allou, the examining magistrate in Lyon, is so intrigued he decides to take a vacation and work undercover. During the course of the investigation, which includes a disappearance of the elusive Allevaire from a locked and guarded building, his theories keep changing like a kaleidoscope until the final totally unexpected solution. (Source: Locked Room International)

The Double Alibi has been reviewed, among others, at The Invisible Event, Mysteries Ahoy!, Beneath the Stains of Time, and The Grandest Game in the World.

2 thoughts on “Noël Vindry (1896 – 1954)”

  1. I never buy or read French fiction in translation, but had to make an exception for Vindry. The fact that his work is not readily available (to put it mildly) in the original French is very frustrating.

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