But before long, a much deadlier game begins. It begins with Prof. Rodriguez, who makes a stunning revelation at the dinner table, only to plunge down the staircase later that night. Another academic gets crushed by some gym equipment. As the number of academics slowly dwindles, the living must fend for themselves. After all, the killer must be one of the people trapped in the Hotel Baker Street…
This is the plot behind J. M. Erre’s Le Mystère Sherlock (The Sherlock Mystery; 2012), a French detective novel inspired. The set-up is pure And Then There Were None, but this book is a very different beast from Christie’s novel. It struck me very much like the movie Scream, a self-aware horror movie that was very funny to watch. Similarly, this book is aware that it is a mystery. When the characters discover a copy of And Then There Were None in one of the suspects’ bedrooms, they take all the precautions that they can, based on the plot twist of Christie’s novel. Yet this book isn’t really one of psychological suspense and terror – this is far more of a comedy, with absurd murder methods, an insane cast of suspects, and plenty of puns and wordplay.
But Christie is not the lone inspiration for this book, as the author also combines the best of Sherlock Holmes into the mix. He’s very well-represented, and J. M. Erre is either a Sherlockian at heart or doing the best impression of a Sherlockian I can remember seeing in print. All the talks of Holmes, Moriarty, & Co. are positively delightful, with such themes as “Sherlock Holmes vs. the Oysters, a Psychotextual Analysis of an Alimentary Phobia”. We discover Holmes’ relationships with Mrs. Hudson, with Watson, with Arsène Lupin, and with the early days of film! The spirit of Sherlockiana is here in its finest, noblest form – the author is playing the game for its own sake. Although there’s plenty of humour at the expense of detective stories, it’s a good-natured sort of humour which seems to have genuine admiration at its heart.
My sincere thanks to the writing team behind the book 1001 Chambres Closes (1001 Locked Rooms) for bringing this book to my attention. I will have more to say about 1001 Chambres Closes in the near future.