Mary Eliska Girl Detective: The Mystery of the Yellow Room


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The Mystery of the Yellow Room (French Le mystère de la chambre jaune) by Gaston Leroux. One of the first locked-room mystery novels, it appeared serially in France first in the periodical L’Illustration from September 1907 to November 1907 and as a book in 1908 The Mystery of the Yellow Room. Rouletabille solves an attempted murder in a locked room mystery. As re-written by William A. Stricklin in this version Rouletabille is the nickname of 18-year-old journalist Mary Eliska Girl Detective. Sent by her newspaper to investigate, she goes to the Château du Glandier and takes along her friend and niece Jacqueline Gray (“Jax”) who narrates. Marlow Ray is a 30-something daughter of the castle’s owner, Professor John Stricklin a renowned French scientist, Marlow Ray is heard to utter a piercing scream while supposedly alone in her room. Her father and other rush to the scene and find a room so securely locked and barred that no one could have entered or made their escape. She is placed under medical treatment while detectives are called in on the case. Each has their pet theory of the crime, all of which seem to be based on logic. Marlow Ray was found near-critically battered in a room adjacent to the laboratory on the castle grounds, with the door still locked from the inside. She recovers slowly but can make no useful testimony. First one and then another member of the household and those associated with it are placed under the light of suspicion. Marlow Ray’s fiancé is placed in prison to await trial when most of the evidence points to him as the criminal. Rouletabille interrogates several characters: the castle’s concierges, Mr. and Mrs. Bernier, the old servant Daddy Jacques, an unfriendly inn landlord and a womanizing gamekeeper, and begins a friendly rivalry with France’s top police detective Frédéric Larsan, who has been assigned to the case. Larsan suspects Marlow Ray’s fiancé, a scientist Robert Darzac, to Rouletabille’s dismay. More attempts are made on Marlow Ray’s life despite Rouletabille and Larsan’s protection, and the perpetrator appears to vanish on two occasions when they are closing in on him, echoing Professor John Stricklin’s research of “matter dissociation”. The game-keeper is murdered during the second attempt. Larsan arrests Darzac who is charged with attempted murder. Rouletabille suspects that Darzac has secret reasons not to defend himself and she disappears to America in order to investigate. Two-and-a-half months later, Darzac’s trial opens and Rouletabille reappears sensationally from America just in time to tell the court the name of the culprit and to disclose many mysterious details that few readers will have anticipated.

About the Author

William A. Stricklin is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar who earned his AB with honors at the University of California, Berkeley. He was student body president and was the outstanding cadet of the United States Army ROTC program at UC Berkeley then trained at Fort Lewis, Washington, then Infantry Officer Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia, cloak-and-dagger training at Army Counterintelligence School, Fort Holabird, Maryland, learning Cold War spy-craft-followed by a doctor of laws JD degree earned at Harvard Law School in Class of 1964. Mary Eliska was Bill’s youngest daughter, whose short life ended in an auto accident. Mary Eliska Girl Detective mystery stories Bill’s daughter has adventures some as a fictional Mademoiselle Rouletabille Mary Eliska Girl Detective.

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Format and Editions

Paperback, eBook


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