Keikichi Ōsaka (1912 – 1945)

Keikichi Ōsaka, whose real name was Fukutarō Suzuki, was born on 20 March 1912 in Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture. On the recommendation of his mentor, Saburō Kōga, he published his first short story in October 1932, “The Hangman of the Department Store” (Depāto no kōkeiri). Pioneer of the genre honkaku misuterī (orthodox mystery), a Japanese variant of the detective novel in which logic plays an important role, he published around thirty short stories between 1932 and 1945, including “The Mourning Locomotive” (Tomurai kikansha) o “The Three Madmen” (San kyōjin). His short stories in most cases have three characteristics: a crime that seems materially impossible, even supernatural; an unusual or mysterious setting; an amateur detective who solves the riddle. Mobilised during World War II, he was sent to the Philippines where he died of illness In Luzon on 2 July 2 1945. Following his untimely death at age 33, he fell into oblivion. It was only with the revival of the honkaku genre in the 1980-1990s that his work was gradually rediscovered. Finally three collections were published between 2001 and 2010 in Japan. In 2017, twelve of his texts were also translated into English in The Ginza Ghost (Locked Room International, 2017) translated by Ho-Ling Wong. (Source: French Wikipedia)

Oosaka Keikichi was a talented master of the short puzzle mystery story, active in the thirties and forties of the previous century, but the second World War stopped his career abruptly: first state censorship didn’t allow him to write the kind of detective stories he did earlier, and eventually, the poor man died on the battlefield. He became a forgotten author after the war, but was eventually rediscovered. In the past, publisher Tokyo Sogensha released two volumes that focused on Oosaka’s output as a puzzle plot mystery writer: most of the stories in Locked Room International’s English-language release The Ginza Ghost can also be found in these volumes. But in August 2020, this same publisher released a third collection of Oosaka’s stories, but with a completely different angle. Shi no Kaisousen (“The Yacht of Death” 2020) collects more than a dozen stories originally published between 1934-1942, as well as some short essays/articles by Oosaka. The stories in this volume show a completely different side to Oosaka, focusing on his comedic (mostly non-imposssible) mystery stories, as well as stories with a stronger thriller or horror atmosphere. (Source: The Case Files of Ho-Ling)

The short story “The Cold Night’s Clearing” by Keikichi Ōsaka, in The Ginza Ghost (Locked Room International, 2017), is also included in Foreign Bodies (The British Library, 2017) by Martin Edwards (editor). Highly recommended.

The-Ginza-Ghost-200x300Book Description: The Japanese form of Golden Age detective fiction was re-launched in the early 1980s as shin honkaku by Soji Shimada and Yukito Ayatsuji, but the original honkaku dates from the 1930s and one of its pioneers was Keikichi Osaka. The Ginza Ghost is a collection of twelve of his best stories, almost all impossible crimes. Although the solutions are strictly fair-play, there is an unreal, almost hallucinatory quality to them.  Osaka, who died tragically young, was an early pioneer and master of the genre, whose work is only now starting to be re-discovered.  Readers of LRI’s The Decagon House Murders and The Moai Island Puzzle will not be disappointed.(Source: Locked Room International)

I look forward to reading The Ginza Ghost soon. Stay tuned.

My Book Notes: Foreign Bodies (2017) edited and introduced by Martin Edwards

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The British Library, 2017. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1139 KB. Print Length:  257 pages. ASIN:B0767QG6Z6. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6446-1.

51uiFYp32ELBook Description: Today, translated crime fiction is in vogue – but this was not always the case. A century before Scandi noir, writers across Europe and beyond were publishing detective stories of high quality. Often these did not appear in English and they have been known only by a small number of experts. This is the first ever collection of classic crime in translation from the golden age of the genre in the 20th century. Many of these stories are exceptionally rare, and several have been translated for the first time to appear in this volume. Martin Edwards has selected gems of classic crime from Denmark to Japan and many points in between. Fascinating stories give an insight into the cosmopolitan cultures (and crime-writing traditions) of diverse places including Mexico, France, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands. (Source: Amazon)

From the Introduction: The stories in Foreign Bodies are presented, very approximately, in chronological order of publication. When one reads the stories, the influence of Conan Doyle is often evident, but what is truly captivating, to my mind, is the variety of storytelling styles adopted by writers in different parts of the world at much the same time as Christie and her English-speaking colleagues were debating the so-called ‘rules’ of the classic whodunit. (Martin Edwards)

Book Content: “The Swedish Match” (1883) by Anton Chekov (trans. Peter Sekerin); “A Sensible Course of Action’” (1909) by Palle Rosenkrantz (trans. Michael Meyer); “Strange Tracks” (1911) by Balduin Groller (trans. N.L. Lederer); “The Kennel” (1920) by Maurice Level (trans. Alys Eyre Macklin); “Footprints in the Snow” (1923), by  Maurice Leblanc; “The Return of Lord Kingwood” (1926) by Ivans (trans. Josh Pachter); “The Stage Box Murder” (1929) by Paul Rosenhayn (trans. June Head); “The Spider” (1930) by Koga Saburo (trans Ho-Ling Wong); “The Venom of the Tarantula” (1933) by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (trans. Sreejata Guha); “Murder à la Carte” (1931) by Jean-Toussaint Samat; “The Cold Night’s Clearing” (1936) by Keikichi Osaka (trans Ho-Ling Wong); “The Mystery of the Green Room” (1936) by Pierre Véry (trans. John Pugmire); “Kippers” (19??) by John Flanders (trans. Josh Pachter); “The Lipstick and the Teacup” (1957) by Havank (trans. Josh Pachter); and “The Puzzle of the Broken Watch” (1960) by Maria Elvira Bermudez (trans. Donald A. Yates).

My Take: At the end of the 19th century and up to the first half of the 20th, the development of crime fiction took place not only in English-speaking countries but it spreads through other parts of the world. This collection of short detective stories is good evidence of this. But these works, due to the lack of translations, had not always been within reach of English readers. With this book, Martin Edwards not only fills a gap but brings the possibility to get to know better some of these authors and their works.

This selection comprises a total of fifteen short stories, sorted approximately in chronological order of publication, starting with Anton Chekhov’s “The Swedish Match” and ending with Maria Elvira Bermudez’ “The Puzzle of the Broken Watch”. The first one dated in 1883 and the latest published in book form in 1960, even though it probably appeared first in 1948 in the magazine Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio.

As it can be expected, at this kind of selection, personal preferences may incline more towards each or other short story, but it can be no doubt that all these authors deserve to be better known. For this reason I strongly recommend this book to all aficionados to the genre.

I would like to add to finalise that I entrust the success of this book will encourage publishers to translate more crime classic books by foreign authors and readers to read them.

Foreign Bodies has been reviewed, among others by Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, Lea at FictionFan’s Book Reviews, Margaret at Books Please, Chris Roberts at Crime Review, Jason Half, Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries,

About the Editor: Martin Edwards is the 2020 recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in UK crime writing. His latest novel is Mortmain Hall, a crime novel set in 1930. He has received the CWA Dagger in the Library, awarded by UK librarians for his body of work. He is President of the Detection Club, consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics, and former Chair of the CWA. His contemporary whodunits include The Coffin Trail, first of seven Lake District Mysteries and shortlisted for the Theakston’s Prize for best crime novel of the year. The Arsenic Labyrinth was shortlisted for Lakeland Book of the Year. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, while The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books also won the Macavity and was nominated for four other awards. He has also received the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize, a CWA Red Herring, and the Poirot award “for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre”. (Source: Martin Edwards’ blog ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’). His forthcoming book The Crooked Shore (Lake District Mysteries #8) will go on sale on 22 July 2021.

British Library publicity page

Poisoned Press Pen publicity page

Foreign Bodies de Martin Edwards (Editor)

Descripción del libro: Hoy en día, la novela policiaca traducida está de moda, pero no siempre fue así. Un siglo antes de la novela negra escandinava, escritores de toda Europa y más allá publicaban historias de detectives de gran calidad. A menudo, estas no aparecían en inglés y solo eran conocidas por un pequeño número de expertos. Esta es la primera colección de novelas policiacas clásicas traducidas de la edad de oro del género en el siglo XX. Muchas de estas historias son excepcionalmente raras y varias se han traducido por primera vez para aparecer en este volumen. Martin Edwards ha seleccionado joyas de la novela policiaca clásica desde Dinamarca hasta Japón y muchos puntos intermedios. Historias fascinantes que nos proporcionan una perspectiva sobre la cultura cosmopolita (y las tradiciones de obras policiacas) de distintos lugares , incluidos México, Francia, Rusia, Alemania y los Países Bajos. (Fuente: Amazon)

De la Introducción: Las historias de Foreign Bodies se presentan, de forma muy aproximada, por el orden cronológico de su publicación. Cuando uno lee las historias, la influencia de Conan Doyle es a menudo evidente, pero lo que es verdaderamente fascinante, en mi opinión, es la variedad de estilos narrativos adoptados por escritores en diferentes partes del mundo al mismo tiempo que Christie y sus colegas angloparlantes debatían las llamadas ‘reglas’ de la novela policíaca clásica. (Martin Edwards)

Mi opinión: A finales del siglo XIX y hasta la primera mitad del XX, el desarrollo de la novela policiaca tuvo lugar no solo en los países de habla inglesa, sino que se extendió por otras partes del mundo. Esta colección de relatos de detectives es una buena prueba de ello. Pero estas obras, debido a la falta de traducciones, no siempre habían estado al alcance de los lectores angloparlantes. Con este libro, Martin Edwards no solo llena un vacío sino que brinda la posibilidad de conocer mejor a algunos de estos autores y sus obras.

Esta selección comprende un total de quince relatos breves, ordenados aproximadamente por orden cronológico de publicación, comenzando con “The Swedish Match” de Anton Chejov y terminando con “El embrollo del reloj” de Maria Elvira Bermudez. El primero data de 1883 y el último publicado en forma de libro en 1960, aunque probablemente apareció por primera vez en 1948 en la revista Selecciones Policiacas y de Misterio.

Como era de esperar, en este tipo de selección, las preferencias personales pueden inclinarse más hacia uno u otro relato breve, pero no cabe duda de que todos estos autores merecen ser más conocidos. Por esta razón, recomiendo este libro a todos los aficionados al género.

Me gustaría añadir para finalizar que confío que el éxito de este libro animará a los editores a traducir más libros clásicos de novela policiaca de autores en idiomas extranjeros y a los lectores a leerlos.

Acerca del editor: Martin Edwards recibió en 2020 el CWA Diamond Dagger, la mayor distición del Reino Unido a un escritor de novela policiaca. Su última novela, Mortmain Hall, es una novela policiaca ambientada en 1930. Ha recibido el CWA Dagger in the Library, otorgado por libreros del Reino Unido por su trabajo. Es presidente del Detection Club, consultor de Crime Classics de la Biblioteca Británica y ex presidente de la CWA. Sus novelas policiacas contemporáneas incluyen The Coffin Trail, el primero de siete Misterios en le Lake District y seleccionado para el Theakston’s Prize a la mejor novela policíaca del año. The Arsenic Labyrinth fue seleccionado para el Lakeland Book of the Year. The Golden Age of Murder ganó los premios Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating y Macavity, mientras que The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books también ganó el Macavity y fue nominado para otros cuatro premios. También ha recibido el CWA Short Story Dagger, el CWA Margery Allingham Prize, un CWA Red Herring y el premio Poirot “por su destacada contribución al género policiaco”. (Fuente: blog de Martin Edwards ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’). Su próximo libro The Crooked Shore (Lake District Mysteries # 8) saldrá a la venta el 22 de julio de 2021.

My Book Notes: When Last I Died, 1941 (Mrs Bradley # 13) by Gladys Mitchell

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Vintage Digital, 2009. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 920 KB. Print Length:  208 pages. ASIN: B0031RSBFA. eISBN: 9781409076803. First published in Great Britain in 1941 by Michael Joseph and in the US in 1942 by Alfred A. Knopf.

image (1)Rediscover Gladys Mitchell – one of the ‘Big Three’ female crime fiction writers alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Synopsis: When psychoanalyst and detective Mrs Bradley’s grandson finds an old diary in her rented cottage it attracts the interest of this most unconventional of detectives, for the book’s owner – now deceased – was once suspected of the murders of both her aunt and cousin. Does the missing diary finally reveal what happened to old aunt Flora? Is the case of Bella Foxley really closed? And what happened to the boys from the local reformatory who went missing at the same time? As events unfold, Mrs. Bradley faces one of her most difficult cases to date, one that will keep readers guessing until the very end…

My Take: In this issue, Mrs Bradley tackles a case that took place six years ago. She first heard of it while she was visiting an institution for delinquent boys. In those times there was a housekeeper named Bella Foxley working at the Institution who resigned when, following the death of her wealthy aunt Flora, she suddenly came into money. Rumour was she had something to do with her death, but nothing could be proved in this sense. Shortly afterwards, while she was sharing house with her cousin Tom Turney and his wife Muriel, her cousin Tom, a psychical researcher, dies under mysterious circumstances. Bella became the main suspect but she was acquitted at the trial that followed, even though everyone considered her guilty. Months later, while she was living with her sister Tessa, Bella Foxley committed suicide. Everybody thought she couldn’t bear the burden of her guilt. But just now, Mrs Bradley had helped to trace two boys who had broken out of the Institution. This reminds us that, almost at the same time when Bella left the reformatory, two other boys had disappeared and were never traced. Could she have been responsible of all that happened in those days? The fact is that all this circumstances intrigue Mrs Bradley, and she is determined to find out the truth. Her determination increases when her grandson accidentally finds a diary that had belonged to Bella in Aunt Flora’s cottage that Mrs Bradley had just rented that season.

When Last I Died has not been my first encounter with Gladys Mitchell, I read before The Saltmarsh Murders. However I discovered later that this was probably not the best choice to start reading her. An author who, according to some reviewers, requires of a certain learning to fully appreciate it. Maybe, for this reason it took me some time to start reading another one of her books. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this book that can probably be the most adequate to get started with her oeuvre. And I would like to thank in particular Moira Redmond and Len Tyler for their presentation on the Great Gladys at the latest edition of Bodies from the Library Conference. Their exposition encouraged me to read it. I liked, in particular, the different perspectives it provides on the same facts that come up throughout the story. The different point of views offered by Bella’s diary, full of inconsistencies and mistakes, together with new revelations that emerge from interviews with witnesses, that might  not be completely sincere, and that bring up new questions requiring new answers. Nick Fuller sums it up saying: ‘This is one of Mitchell’s masterpieces: innovative in form and approach, at once bizarre and realistic, inventively yet coherently plotted.’ And I can’t agree more. Highly recommended.

I would also like to recommend The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site by Jason Half. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a superb website and is well worth your visit.

When Last I Died has been reviewed, among others, by: Jason Half at The Stone House, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, and Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books.

2419 (1) (Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Alfred A. Knopf (USA), 1942)

About the Author: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell – or ‘The Great Gladys’ as Philip Larkin called her – was born in 1901, in Cowley in Oxfordshire. She graduated in history from University College London and in 1921 began her long career as a teacher. Her hobbies included architecture and writing poetry. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and her interest in witchcraft was encouraged by her friend, the detective novelist Helen Simpson. Her first novel, Speedy Death, was published in 1929 and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the detective heroine of a further sixty six crime novels. She wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career and was an early member of the Detection Club, alongside Agatha Christie, G.K Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers. In 1961 she retired from teaching and, from her home in Dorset, continued to write, receiving the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 1976. Gladys Mitchell died in 1983.

Selected bibliography: Speedy Death (1929), The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929), The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Dead Men’s Morris (1936), Come Away, Death (1937), St Peter’s Finger (1938), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), Laurels Are Poison (1942), The Rising of the Moon (1945), Death and the Maiden (1947), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), The Echoing Strangers (1952), The Twenty-third Man (1957), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), A Hearse on May-Day (1972), The Death-Cap Dancers (1981), and The Greenstone Griffins (1983). A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site has reviews of almost all the books in its Bibliography section. (Source: Wikipedia). In bold the books I look forward to reading shortly.

Penguin UK publicity page

Rue Morgue Press

The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site

Gladys Mitchell at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Gladys Mitchell Obituary

When Last I Died, de Gladys Mitchell

Vuelva a descubrir a Gladys Mitchell,  una de las ‘Tres Grandes’ escritoras de la novela policiaca junto con Agatha Christie y Dorothy L. Sayers.

Sinopsis: Cuando el nieto de la psicoanalista y detective Mrs Bradley encuentra un viejo diario en la cabaña que su auela había alquilado, atrae el interés de esta poco convencional detective, porque el dueño del libro, ahora fallecido, fue sospechoso de los asesinatos de su tía y de su primo. ¿Revelará finalmente el diario perdido lo que le sucedió a la anciana tía Flora? ¿Está realmente cerrado el caso de Bella Foxley? ¿Y qué pasó con los chicos del reformatorio local que desaparecieron al mismo tiempo? A medida que se desarrollan los acontecimientos, la Sra. Bradley se enfrenta uno de sus casos más difíciles hasta la fecha, uno que mantendrá a los lectores adivinando hasta el final …

Mi opinión: En esta entrega, la Sra. Bradley aborda un caso que tuvo lugar hace seis años. Supo de él por primera vez mientras visitaba una institución para jóvenes delincuentes. En aquellos tiempos había una ama de llaves llamada Bella Foxley que trabajaba en la Institución y que renunció cuando, tras la muerte de su adinerada tía Flora, de repente le legó su dinero. Se rumoreaba que ella tuvo algo que ver con su muerte, pero no se pudo probar nada en este sentido. Poco después, mientras compartía casa con su primo Tom Turney y su esposa Muriel, su primo Tom, un investigador psíquico, muere en circunstancias misteriosas. Bella se convirtió en la principal sospechosa, pero fue absuelta en el juicio que siguió, a pesar de que todos la consideraban culpable. Meses después, mientras vivía con su hermana Tessa, Bella Foxley se suicidó. Todo el mundo pensó que no pudo soportar el peso de su culpa. Pero justo ahora, la señora Bradley había ayudado a localizar a dos chicos que habían escapado de la misma Institución. Esto nos recuerda que, casi al mismo tiempo que Bella dejó el reformatorio, otros dos chicos habían desaparecido y nunca fueron localizados. ¿Pudo haber sido ella responsable de todo lo que pasó en esos días? El hecho es que todas estas circunstancias intrigan a la señora Bradley, y está decidida a descubrir la verdad. Su determinación aumenta cuando su nieto accidentalmente encuentra un diario que había pertenecido a Bella en la cabaña de la tía Flora que la Sra. Bradley acababa de alquilar esa temporada.

When Last I Died no ha sido mi primer encuentro con Gladys Mitchell, leí antes de The Saltmarsh Murders. Sin embargo, descubrí más tarde que probablemente esta no era la mejor opción para empezar a leerla. Una autora que, según algunos críticos, requiere de un cierto aprendizaje para apreciarla plenamente. Quizás, por eso me tomó un tiempo empezar a leer otro de sus libros. De todos modos, está bien lo que acaba bien, y he disfrutado muchísimo leyendo este libro que probablemente sea el más adecuado para empezar con su obra. Y me gustaría agradecer en particular a Moira Redmond y Len Tyler por su presentación sobre la Gran Gladys en la última edición de la conferencia Bodies from the Library. Su exposición me animó a leerlo. Me gustaron, en particular, las diferentes perspectivas que ofrece sobre los mismos hechos que surgen a lo largo de la historia. Los diferentes puntos de vista que ofrece el diario de Bella, lleno de inconsistencias y errores, junto con nuevas revelaciones que surgen de entrevistas con testigos, que pueden no ser del todo sinceras, y que plantean nuevas preguntas que requieren nuevas respuestas. Nick Fuller lo resume diciendo: “Esta es una de las obras maestras de Mitchell: innovadora en forma y planteamiento, a la vez extraña y realista, ingeniosa pero coherentemente tramada.” Y no puedo estar más de acuerdo. Muy recomendable.

También me gustaría recomendar The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site de Jason Half. Si aún no lo ha visto, es un sitio web magnífico y vale la pena visitarlo.

Sobre el autor: Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell, o “La Gran Gladys” como la llamó Philip Larkin, nació en 1901, en Cowley, Oxfordshire. Se graduó en Historia en el University College de Londres y en 1921 comenzó su larga carrera como maestra. Estudió las obras de Sigmund Freud y atribuyó su interés por la brujería a la influencia de su amiga, la novelista de misterio Helen Simpson. Su primera novela, Speedy Death, se publicó en 1929 y presentó a los lectores a Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, la heroína de otras 65 novelas. Escribió al menos una novela al año a lo largo de su carrera y fue miembro del Detection Club junto con G. K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie y Dorothy L. Sayers. En 1961 se retiró de la enseñanza y, desde su hogar en Dorset, continuó escribiendo, recibiendo el Crime Writers Association Silver Dagger Award en 1976. Gladys Mitchell murió en 1983.

Bibliografía seleccionada: Speedy Death (1929), The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929), The Saltmarsh Murders (1932), Death at the Opera (1934), The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935), Dead Men’s Morris (1936), Come Away, Death (1937), St Peter’s Finger (1938), Brazen Tongue (1940), When Last I Died (1941), Laurels Are Poison (1942), The Rising of the Moon (1945) única obra de Gladys Mitchell disponible en español con el título de  Cuando sale la luna (Fábulas de Albión, 2012), Death and the Maiden (1947), Tom Brown’s Body (1949), The Echoing Strangers (1952), The Twenty-third Man (1957), Dance to Your Daddy (1969), A Hearse on May-Day (1972), The Death-Cap Dancers (1981), y The Greenstone Griffins (1983). A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site tiene reseñas de casi todos los libros en la sección Bibliografía. (Fuente: Wikipedia) En negrita los libros que espero leer en breve.

My Book Notes: “Footprints in the Snow” s.s. (1923) by Maurice Leblanc

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Collected in Foreign Bodies edited and introduced by Martin Edwards (British Library Crime Classics, 2017) Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1139 KB. Print Length: 257 page. eISBN: 978-0-7123-6446-1.ASIN: B0767QG6Z6.“Footprints in the Snow” reproduced courtesy of Locked Room International.

511EViwnjjL._SY346_Description: This short story, originally titled: “Des pas sur la neige”, was first published in the daily Excelsior from January 18 to 22, 1923. It was collected in book form in Maurice Leblanc’s The Eight Strokes of The Clock (Les Huit Coups de l’horloge, 1923), with a preface by the author himself that reads: ‘These adventures were told to me in the old days by Arsène Lupin, as though they had happened to a friend of his, named Prince Rénine. As for me, considering the way in which they were conducted, the actions, the behaviour and the very character of the hero, I find it very difficult not to identify the two friends as one and the same person. Arsène Lupin is gifted with a powerful imagination and is quite capable of attributing to himself adventures which are not his at all and of disowning those which are really his…’ The eight stories, even though independent, have a leading thread: Lupin, under the name of Serge Rénine, trying to conquer the heart of a young lady, travels with her, solving eight mysteries on the way. Besides being available in Leblanc’s The Eight Strokes of The Clock it is collected in Foreign Bodies edited by Martin Edwards (British Library Crime Classics, 2017) and, as far as I understand, the story is in the public domain and can be downloaded free online.

My Take: This has been my first encounter with Maurice Leblanc and his character Arsène Lupine/Serge Rénine. I’m sure it won’t be the last. A delicious short story that revolves around an attempt to incriminate a man for something he hasn’t done. A rather naïve but very enjoyable read.

What others have said:

Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime: The mystery in this tale centres on another unhappy household and a romantic rival, which leads to mysterious circumstances during a snowy evening, which in turn endanger two young people’s lives. Like a number of the stories in this collection footprints in the snow become a cornerstone clue, which can be interpreted in more than one way.

Jason Half: Maurice LeBlanc’s 1923 story “Footprints in the Snow”, a colorful detective tale featuring an apparent murder occurring around a deep well.

Jim Noy at The Invisible Event: A man’s footprints lead through virgin snow to his house, where evidence of his murder and the subsequent flight of the rapscallion who wished to steal his wife away lays scattered around in earnest.  I’m not sure about the whole “hammering down the door” aspect, but the remainder here is more enjoyable than I remember the earlier stories in this collection being. Time to acquaint myself with the rest, methinks.

Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries: an impossible crime story that demonstrates that a situation that seems impossible on its surface may appear quite different when it is approached in another way.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Macaulay (USA), 1922)

About the Author: Maurice Marie Émile Leblanc (11 November 1864 – 6 November 1941) was a French novelist and writer of short stories, known primarily as the creator of the fictional gentleman thief and detective Arsène Lupin, often described as a French counterpart to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes. Like Conan Doyle, who often appeared embarrassed or hindered by the success of Sherlock Holmes and seemed to regard his success in the field of crime fiction as a detraction from his more “respectable” literary ambitions, Leblanc also appeared to have resented Lupin’s success. Several times, he tried to create other characters, such as private eye Jim Barnett, but eventually merged them with Lupin. He continued to pen Lupin tales well into the 1930s.

“Huellas en la nieve”, de Maurice Leblanc

Descripción: Este relato, titulado originalmente: “Des pas sur la neige”, se publicó por primera vez en el diario Excelsior del 18 al 22 de enero de 1923. Fue recopilado en forma de libro en Las 8 campanadas/El secreto del reloj de Maurice Leblanc (Les Huit Coups de l’horloge, 1923), con un prefacio del propio autor que dice: “Estas aventuras me las contó en los viejos tiempos Arsène Lupin, como si le hubieran sucedido a un amigo suyo, el príncipe Rénine. Por mi parte, considerando la forma en que se llevaron a cabo, los actos, la conducta y la propia personalidad del héroe, me resulta muy difícil no identificar a los dos amigos como una misma persona. Arsène Lupin está dotado de una imaginación portentosa y es bastante capaz de atribuirse aventuras que no son en absoluto suyas y renegar de las que realmente lo son … “ Las ocho historias, aunque independientes, tienen un hilo conductor: Lupin, bajo el nombre de Serge Rénine, intenta conquistar el corazón de una joven, viaja con ella, resolviendo ocho misterios en el camino. Además de estar disponible en Las 8 campanadas/El secreto del reloj de Leblanc, está recopilada en Foreign Bodies editada por Martin Edwards (British Library Crime Classics, 2017) y, según tengo entendido, la historia es de dominio público y se puede descargar gratis en internet.

Mi opinión: Este ha sido mi primer encuentro con Maurice Leblanc y su personaje Arsène Lupin/Serge Rénine. Estoy seguro de que no será el último. Una deliciosa historia corta que gira en torno a un intento de incriminar a un hombre por algo que no ha hecho. Una lectura bastante ingenua pero muy entretenida.

Lo que otros han dicho:

Kate Jackson en Cross-Examining Crime: El misterio de esta historia se centra en otra familia infeliz y un rival romántico, lo que conduce a circunstancias misteriosas durante una noche nevada, que a su vez pone en peligro la vida de dos jóvenes. Como varias de las historias de esta colección, las huellas en la nieve se convierten en una pista fundamental, que se puede interpretar de más de una manera.

Jason Half: la historia de 1923 de Maurice LeBlanc “Huellas en la nieve”, una colorida historia de detectives que presenta un aparente asesinato que ocurre alrededor de un pozo profundo.

Jim Noy en The Invisible Event: las huellas de un hombre conducen a través de la nieve virgen hasta su casa, donde la evidencia de su asesinato y la posterior huida del bribón que deseaba quitarle a su esposa se encuentra seriamente dispersa por todas partes. No estoy seguro acerca de lo referente a “derribar la puerta a martillazos”, pero el resto de este caso es más entretenido de lo que recuerdo haber sido las historias anteriores de esta colección. Hora de familiarizarme con el resto, creo yo.

Les Blatt en Classic Mysteries: una historia de un crimen imposible que demuestra que una situación que parece imposible en su superficie puede parecer bastante diferente cuando la enfocamos de otra manera.

Sobre el autor: Maurice Marie Émile Leblanc (11 de noviembre de 1864 – 6 de noviembre de 1941) fue un novelista y escritor francés de relatos cortos, conocido principalmente como el creador del caballero ladrón y detective de ficción Arsène Lupin, a menudo descrito como el homólogo francés de Sherlock Holmes, la creación de Arthur Conan Doyle. Al igual que Conan Doyle, que a menudo parecía incómodo u obstaculizado por el éxito de Sherlock Holmes y parecía considerar su éxito en el campo de la novela policiaca en detrimento de sus más “respetables” ambiciones literarias, Leblanc también parecía estar resentido por el éxito de Lupin. Varias veces, intentó crear otros personajes, como el detective privado Jim Barnett, pero finalmente los fusionó con Lupin. Continuó escribiendo cuentos de Lupin hasta bien entrada la década de 1930.

Maurice Leblanc (1864 – 1941)

Maurice-leblancMaurice Marie Émile Leblanc was a French novelist and writer of short stories, known primarily as the creator of the fictional gentleman thief and detective Arsène Lupin, often described as a French counterpart to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation Sherlock Holmes.

Leblanc was born 11 December 1864 in Rouen, Normandy, where he was educated at Lycée Pierre-Corneille. After studying in several countries and dropping out of law school, he settled in Paris and began to write fiction, both short crime stories and longer novels. The latter, heavily influenced by writers like Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant, were critically admired but had little commercial success.

Leblanc was largely considered little more than a writer of short stories for various French periodicals until the first Arsène Lupin story appeared in a series of short stories that was serialized in the magazine Je sais tout, starting in No. 6, dated 15 July 1905. Clearly created at editorial request under the influence of and in reaction to the wildly successful Sherlock Holmes stories, the roguish and glamorous Lupin was a surprise success and Leblanc’s fame and fortune beckoned.By 1907, Leblanc had graduated to writing full-length Lupin novels, and the reviews and sales were so good that Leblanc effectively dedicated the rest of his career to working on the Lupin stories. Leblanc was awarded the Légion d’Honneur for his services to literature, and died 6 November 1941 in Perpignan. (Source: Wikipedia)

Most of Leblanc’s work has been translated into English and some of this can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

Selected Bibliography: Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar aka Exploits of Arsène Lupin, Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin; (Arsène Lupin, gentleman cambrioleur, 1907); Arsène Lupin vs. Herlock Sholmes aka The Blonde Lady (Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmès, 1908 ); The Hollow Needle (L’Aiguille creuse, 1909); 813 (813, 1910); The Crystal Stopper (Le Bouchon de cristal, 1912); The Confessions of Arsène Lupin (Les Confidences d’Arsène Lupin, 1913); The Shell Shard aka Woman of Mystery (L’Éclat d’obus, 1916) Not originally part of the Arsène Lupin series, Lupin was written into the story in the 1923 edition; The Golden Triangle aka The Return of Arsène Lupin (Le Triangle d’or, 1918); The Island of Thirty Coffins aka The Secret of Sarek (L’Île aux trente cercueils, 1919); The Teeth of The Tiger (Les Dents du tigre, 1914) Published in English in 1914, but remained unpublished in French until 1920; The Eight Strokes of The Clock (Les Huit Coups de l’horloge, 1922).

“Footprints in the Snow”, the penultimate story of Leblanc’s Eight Strikes of the Clock collection, is available as part of Foreign Bodies (British Library Crime Classics, 2017) edited by Martin Edwards.

Further Reading: L’Arsène by Xavier Lechard At the Villa Rosa


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Macaulay (USA) (1913) c1928)

leblanc-confessionsarseneThe world’s premier thief looks back on a lifetime of adventure in these tales of his outrageous exploits

It has been a fortnight since the baroness Repstein disappeared from Paris, taking with her a fortune in jewels stolen from her husband. French detectives have chased her all over Europe, following the trail of gemstones like so many precious breadcrumbs, but she has eluded their efforts. When Arsène Lupin finds her, she will not escape so easily.

The most brilliant criminal mind in all of Europe, Lupin is not above performing the occasional good deed—especially when there is reward money at stake. In these thrilling stories, the gentleman thief outwits both policemen and criminals time and time again, always making sure to pocket something for himself.

This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices. (Source: Mysterious Press)

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