mercoledì 22 ottobre 2014

Paul Halter : The Demon of Dartmoor, 1993

You can say, without fail, the first production of Paul Halter has been the best. This does not mean that the novels of the 90s and the first decade of the twenty-first century have been a small thing (indeed, in some cases, the finished product was qualitatively very interesting!), but it is equally indubitable that the first 7-8 novels (except for La malediction de Barberousse, opera in my opinion still immature) were the best of his production: all, in a case or in another, have, without exception, great atmosphere and superb deductive problems.  Moreover, with the exception of the very first novel already mentioned, set in France, all the others (at least the ones in the series with Dr. Twist) have locations in England.
Is no exception, Le demon de Dartmoor of 1993.
An evil presence is said to haunt the vicinity of the village of Stapleford in the wilderness of Dartmoor in Devon: someone thinks to have seen a headless horseman, riding a beheaded horse, gallop near the rock in the form of animal overlooking the river which flows through the village. The fact is that three girls, Eliza Gold, Constance Kent, and Annie Crook make a bad end: they climb the Wish Tor granite promontory, laughing as if they were dialoguing with someone (you can not see though!) and then they fall down in raging torrent as if they had been thrown: their bodies will be found (the first two, not the third, which is supposed to have done the same end) further downstream, trapped between the rocks, in the creek, massacred by the force of the current, that  slammed the bodies several times causing multiple fractures and wounds.
For the period of 6 years, nothing happens, and you think nothing will happen; and life goes quiet on in the sleepy village. But one fine day, Nigel Manson, actor in sight, buys the Trentice castle, a  manor in ruin restructuring completely, except for the left wing of the castle, where in the past there was a mysterious death.
Nigel's wife, Helen, doesn’t want to go, because she suspects actress and colleague of her husband in the  successful theatrical piece "The Invisible Man", Nathalie Marvel, be her husband’s lover, and that  her presence in their dwelling could coincide with the betrayal of Nigel.
If everything starts badly, ends worse then: in fact, Nigel, photography enthusiast and owner of various camera bodies, vain and lover of the poses more strange, would like to lay on the windowsill, in a pose very dangerous. The sill of the window is on the second floor, in the hall of the castle, overlooking the surrounding lawn: in the living room with him, are the wife Helen, close the fireplace, and Dr. Thomas Grant, doctor at Stapleford, sitting in armchair behind him. No one else. Too far away, or unable to have a part in what happens on the sill, at least to hear Franch Holloway, theatrical agent of Nathalie and her lover in the past, which enters in the hall a moment after Nigel falls from the window sill, his hands in forward, as if he had been pushed down, while Nathalie picks him up downstairs with the camera.
The invisible being who killed the three girls, did he kill also him? The fact is that other unexplainable things happen after: a red shadow that walks across the streets of the village, who manages to scare even Basil Hawkins, gardener, friend of Victor Sitwell, a professor of philosophy at the Lyceum of Tavistock; a photo that disappears from the inn where Frank Victor and other people go to get drunk one night, photo in which would be represented someone who would frighten Nigel, the night before he was killed (because Twist imagines there isn’t a spirit behind his death, but a wily murderer); the attempt to kill Victor, who owns another duplication of this photo. Someone even tells to have recognized in Nigel, one of two beautiful young people who years earlier had gone to bit interleaved parity in the inn, where they had drawn the interest of their three girls, then disappeared: possible that he was the lover of the girls, and someone thinks they were in love with him, and that for some obscure reason did he kill them? If he was their killer, the Nigel’s death could be not  murder but almost capital justice: an executioner came from beyond? Or we are faced with a far-fetched hypothesis and Nigel was killed for other facts, maybe for what he would see in the disappear picture?
Alan Twist will be to put a face to the mysterious killer and to explain the impossible deaths of the three girls and of Nigel, all four occurred under the gaze of reliable witnesses, without anyone could see their murderer.
Once again Paul, in this novel, demonstrates his own love toward Carr: there are indeed many references to his favorite author.
First, the impossible crime in front of witnesses: Nigel who dies  falling from the window of the hall of the castle, immediately brings to mind a famous novel by Carr, the shortest of his: The Case of the Constant Suicides, of 1941, in which a man falls from the window of a tower, whose door was bolted from the inside. According to me, the novel by Paul, it is a very fascinating variation; then, it brings to Carr when at the 16th chapter, he talks about "The man who explained miracles" so appealing Inspector Hurst (but The Man Who Explained Miracles is not only the other title of the story All In A Maze, of the 1956 signed by Carter Dickson, the latest adventure of Merrivale, but also the famous biography written by Douglas Greene about Carr. And finally, there are other little things that, in my opinion, that approach this novel to Carr.
First, a quote from Carr could be the final step of the 19th chapter: “The light in the window, which it watched for a moment, created yellow reflections in eyes which were clearly not those of a balanced and stable individual.”(Paul Halter : The Demon of Dartmoor – translation: John Pugmire). To me, this step has drawn immediately for mental association, the look of the killer, hidden among the rooftops, at Death-Watch (1935).
But this might just be my obsession. Instead, I believe that there is another quote more important from Carr, indeed by Carter Dickson, which immediately brings to mind, the fall from the promontory of the girls: in fact, it remembered to me “She Died A Lady”, of 1943 in which two lovers fall from a cliff in the underlying ocean (but despite the tracks are only their, it is a murder: one of the most beautiful locked rooms by Carr and one of his masterpieces). And yet .. "The Invisible Man": the title of the comedy starring on stage by Nigel and Nathalie, recall as well as the science fiction novel of 1881 by Herbert George Wells, also a collection of short stories by Carr entitled The New invisible Man (with Colonel March).
However it would be wrong to say that Paul has created his novel starting from Carr:
Instead, I believe Paul has somehow tapped something by Carr (perhaps even subconsciously), creating an original work, I would say one of his most fascinating.
First, the two novelists have a different idea of their stories: while Carr creates intense and dramatic stories, Halter creates fairy "black"tales, that have a great atmosphere, with false supernatural elements: the atmosphere is magical, because magical are the descriptions of the places (a similar process can be seen in L'arbre aux doigts tordus or La malediction de Barberousse), and there are supernatural references (an invisible man, a headless horseman, a deck of diabolical cards, a flying horse). Moreover Carr creates stories suited to adults, in which lack drastically almost very young subjects, because the story is told through the eyes of an adult, unlike Halter where instead these subjects are often present (La malédiction de Barberousse, Le diable de Dartmoor, Spiral) because the story is told through the eyes of a boy. I quote an important step of interview done by me to Paul, 1 year ago, and that had an echo quite significant, even abroad:
Le gros problème, pour un roman policier, est que la magie du mystère cesse d’opérer à la fin, lorsque tout est expliqué par le menu. Il faut donc trouver un truc pour que le charme opère toujours. Le meilleur exemple reste à mes yeux la fin de La Chambre ardente de Carr. Autrement dit, trouver un truc pour accréditer le fantastique après les explications finales. Comme définition du roman policier, Pierre Véry parlait de “conte de fées pour adultes” et je sourscris à cette affirmation sans la moindre réserve. Pour les petits enfants que nous étions, ces histoires de sorcières, de fées et de dragons étaient une véritable école de préparation au roman policier ! Et inconsciemment, je crois que j’essaye de retrouver ces premièrs frissons en écrivant mes histoires. Le thème du conte de fées est toujours au moins sous-jacent. Dand “L’homme qui aimait les nuages”, c’est même manifeste. L’héroine semble être une fée, tandis que le coupable est le “vent”. Pour ce qui est de l’atmosphère, je ne sais pas si c’est inné, en tout cas, ce me semble indispensable pour écrire une bonne histoire. Et tant que je ne la “sens” pas, pas question pour moi de commencer mon récit.    
In addition, while in the case of Carr's novels the culprit almost never is a victim of fate and almost always he is a being who killed maybe pushed by necessity, or for cold and calculated skill, but not for madness, in the novels of Halter (and also in Le diable de Dartmoor) peeps insistent the theme of madness:
Oui, j’aime le thème de la folie. Cela permet de présenter des mobiles variés et surprenants. Les problèmes psychologiques liés à l’enfance (en évitant le sacro-saint viol de l’oncle si possible !) sont également intéressants. Je dirais que mes criminels sont souvent “obsédés”, par une passion, une phobie, etc. Pour être plus précis, il faudrait que je détaille chacune des mes histoires, mais je laisserais au lecteur le soin de les découvrir par lui-même
Another difference between Carr and Halter concerns the construction of the plot: while Carr reserves importance both to the “How” and “Who”, Halter is mainly concerned to explain how an event took place: not at random, except  La quatriéme porte and Le brouillard rouge , and some other novel among the first issued, such as La mort vous invite or La lettre qui tue, it is not so difficult to frame the guilty, which instead doesn’t happen in the case of Carr. This because Halter inherits the tradition of the French enigma novel in which the enigma has prevalence respect to the identification of the culprit.
Other difference between the two relates to the details of the story: while in Carr, and generally in the case of Anglo-Saxon novelists of the 30s (E.Queen, Van Dine, CDKing, etc. ..), the details, the particular have a significant and are extremely complex in their explanation, and each contributes to the final solution, in Halter this is not always the case, as the microstructure of the novel does not care him far as the macrostructure: interests him the problem and not its outward expressions instead. If the difficulty in La Quatrième Porte has a very high level of complexity, almost pure virtuosity, in many of his novels, the difficulty is only apparent.
Not surprisingly, in a history of Halter, if you understand how he thinks, and what is his “modus agendi et procedendi” (which are often repeated in the novels), it is not difficult to spot the culprit, unlike in Carr. Carr, has the ability to explain in the minutest details the solution of a certain fact, even after you have stretched the plot of the novel. And in this it differs from other contemporary novelist:  for example Talbot, that in Rim of the Pit creates a sum of impossible situations insomuch  to fatigue then, in the final solution, to explain realistically them, climbing often on the mirrors. Hi because Halter, in my opinion, very intelligently, knowing he isn’t on the same level of Carr, does not try to emulate him failing in the attempt, but instead  he creates very attractive narrative  buildings, but easy to explain, because they have no real complexity  (except in some of the early work): it is also reflected in the length of his novels, which often stands on 200 pages or less, unlike the carrian novels.
In the novel, however, there are also other interesting things, that relate to the quotes submitted. For example, the beginning of Chapter 8, presents us Frank, in a dingy hotel room, who caters to his lover Nathalie and says:
“Couvrez ce sein que je ne saurais voir”
The complete period would be: “Couvrez ce sein que je ne voir saurais voir. Par de pareils objets les âmes sont blessées,
et cela fait venir de coupables pensées.”(Molière: Tartuffe, Act III, Scene II, verses 860-862). Nathalie and Frank are lovers and her nakedness, is the prologue to an embrace. However, he turns to her, mentioning a step away from Molière's Tartuffe: Tartuffe wants to seduce Elmira, with his moralizing maxims, expressed in a manner that, not too subtly, she understands how he wants to possess her. In essence, the advances of Truffle / Frank is the soul of hypocrisy, duplicity, the dichotomy between being and appearance: in fact even Frank, like Tartuffe, is a hypocrite, which manifests ihimelf in a certain way to win the next , i.e. starlets and showgirls in search of success (as Nathalie).
Yet the pace, in my opinion, could be the soul of the whole novel, and it would not be entirely accidental that Paul had entered it: a novel about the duplicity and falsehood. In fact, if we analyze the behavior of the various characters in the novel, you will see that several of them, it is as if they recited a part, and so in essence they are the hypocrites: Nathalie is false, false is Frank, Nigel is false, false is Helen, Victor is false, false is Annie, and could also be false Basil also.
In conclusion, another very beautiful novel by Paul Halter.

Pietro De Palma

domenica 19 ottobre 2014

William De Andrea: Killed on the Rocks, 1990

William De Andrea was born July 1, 1952 in Port Chester, New York. After studying in the USA, he worked as a journalist and writer, staying in Europe, in Paris and London. Later, when he settled again in the USA, he lived until his death in 1996, in Connecticut, in Litchfield County. He wrote several series of novels: the one with Matt Cobb who gave him success, he inserted his own experience in a major American television network; that of Niccolo Benedetti was also intended as a tribute to Nero Wolfe of which he was always a fan; Series Clifford Driscoll instead ventured into the spy genre, while the one with Lobo Black / Quinn Booker took the moves in the Old West.
De Andrea is remembered for being a great writer, winner of three Edgar.
Killed on the Rocks is the seventh novel by Matt Cobb, and his only Locked Room.
Matt Cobb is the vice president of a network, the NTA, which is going out of hand. As soon as one is the spread of an imminent bid for Dost to buy the network, network executives come into fibrillation: they want to understand what it seeks in reality the offer that Dost is going to do. In fact, someone who plots in the shadows, sent an anonymous letter in which  pleads to do everything in order a the NTA not be sold to billionaire, as the anonymous sender claims that he is crazy.
At this point, Tom Falzet, the president of the network relies on Cobb, in order to find out what lies beneath: Matt will accompany the network executives at the estate of Dost to  Adirondacks, on the rocky mountains, owned by billionaire, and there they will discuss about the matter.
The chalet has been refurbished by the same billionaire who has spared no expense, and entrusted himself to the taste of his wife Aranda, to impress the hosts. In addition to his wife, there’s, together with the billionaire, his son Barry. Dost to the question of Cobb, denies that he is crazy and indeed he moves the finger  toward someone who in the shadows is doing everything possible to mess up his offer. In fact, many would not want the Network, also in a bad way, do not pass out of hand.
Before dinner, Cobb knows Jack Bromhead, friend and right hand man of Dost. He’s a kind cowboy suit with a flashy tie a string, enclosed by a turquoise, which would be expected wore boots matched to the dress. And instead, Jack wears stockings by walking, connected to the ankle, due to a distortion: in fact he limps.
Now Jack manages sympathetic, especially since he defends his friend. Not so nice instead appears to him the son of Dost, who thinks that Cobb wants subtract, after the sale of the network, the favor of the father. Is not the only sour note of the evening, a Rocky Point: after the sumptuous dinner that Gabby has organized for his hosts , Cobb was invited by Charles Wilbeforce, Head of the Legal Department of the Network, to come out from the chalet, in the cold , because he has to rely on one thing. Cobb, also locates outside Carol Coretti, assistant Wilbeforce who reveals how the Dost’s wife has tried to lure her, making an explicit offer of sex, since she, Carol, is a lesbian. Cobb recommends the two to pretend nothing has happened, because I do not know how to get on: Aranda is the third wife of Gabb, since the first and dead, and from the second he got divorced.
After he had fallen into a deep sleep, Cobb has awakened, as other guests by a piercing cry: someone found a body in the snow, about forty paces from the chalet: Dost is dead. The blood stains the snow. All around an expanse of pristine, free of fingerprints. And a line from Fisherman: why would there be between the mountains, on that expanse of snow, near the corpse of Dost a line fisherman, is something that he does not currently understand.

After finding Bromhead also awake, and sent him to wake up the son of a billionaire, Cobb rooms on the fifth floor of the house in the mountains, because he would understand how it was possible that someone could kill Dost without leaving fingerprints: he wants to look at the scene of the crime from above. But he runs into the son of Dost, who thinks he was who killed the father: beside himself, he unleashes a violent kick to the head of Matt, before he goes on.
When Cobb, staggering, unable to go down, the whole gang is reunited. Including the driver of the billionaire, whom he learns to be an officer of the local police and as such, he represents, albeit in a non-professional capacity, the Justice at Rocky Point.
Cobb first learns from Bromhead that Aranda while inheriting  twenty million dollars would have nothing to gain from the death of her husband, because if he were alive she would forever the good life, and not only for a few years, given that her expectation of living is very high and twenty million dollars in his case would be gone in less than no time; he also knows that the bulk of the inheritance will go to the son, unless something that he, Jack, inherits.
In short, about candidates to be referred to as murderess, there are not a few, including a suspect butler and another suspicious housekeeper.
To conduct investigations is the agent Ingersoll, who soon has to rely on the acumen by Cobb. The hostile attitude of Barry Dost, who also is unleashed against the agent breaking his nose, it would be explained in the form of an overreaction, but a mysterious appearance of ghost of Gabby Dost on the TV in his home directs the investigations: the ghost of victim accuses his son about something. The stepmother, who was caught by surprise by the ghost appearance, faints. Barry runs away until, madman, is confronted Cobb and tries to kill him, believing he is part of a mysterious conspiracy against him, and was in turn killed by Bromhead. But he was really the murderer? Or did the real killer set things up so that the investigation would take the wrong direction?
Cobb will understand how was committed the murder of Gabby Dost, like the appearance on the television can be traced back to a few basics of cable transmission, and which are of a fishing line and a fishing rod, and even a metal coat hanger . And Cobb will  nail the real murderer.
Good novel by De Andrea, however,it  holds the rhythm to a certain point: the fact is that De Andrea does not involve many potential murderers, restricted to three or four people. And what's more, he says too much, and too soon he gets to die the son of the victim and at the same time, he declars, without even too much subterfuge, that the murderer could be another. For more he makes sure that Cobb accuse a certain person scoring the false transmission, and then directs the attention towards him/her: if it was a clever ruse to hide the real one, and then get a final effect, it would be a good thing; but since that person ends up being responsible, it is clear that he/she was  to kill or he/she was helped by someone. And then the syllogism leads as a result to identify the real murderer, and also the motive.
The method used for the variation of the snowy meadow, about the Locked Room, I think it could refer to a famous story by Joseph Commings, Serenade to a Killer, if not directly, at least indirectly: in fact, they both use the cables as a means to get to the place of discovery the corpse, although in the case of De Andrea, is the body that is moved from the site of the murder to the site of finding, while in the case of Commings is directly the murderer who uses the cable as a way to reach the scene of the murder overcoming the snowy field, and then return by the same route. Cute is also the method of explaining the ghostly apparition.
Beyond this, a novel that could have had a very different voltage, if he had not too great hurry to finish it.
Pietro De Palma

domenica 12 ottobre 2014

Augusto De Angelis : "The Hotel of the Three Roses" (L’Albergo delle Tre Rose, 1935)

The most famous Italian writer of detective novels in the Fascist Era, was Augusto De Angelis, the only whose novels have passed the test of time, and are still replicated successfully.
The most famous novel by De Angelis is undoubtedly L’Albergo delle Tre Rose, "The Hotel of the Three Roses", which is his masterpiece. It is not only a first-rate detective novel, with red herrings, clues, and highly faceted characters, but has a growing suspense, a considerable pace and mysteries galore.  It also has a claustrophobic atmosphere, as it is set in a small hotel, in the space of one night, and proposes also a mystery of a Locked Room, with a very interesting variation.
De Vincenzi, who is younger than his Deputy Commissioner Sani, but he is respected and esteemed by his uncommon genius, just entered at the Police Headquarters, he finds among  the mail, various letters:  one that turns on his interest is an anonymous letter announcing that something sinister is happening at “The Hotel of the Three Roses”, a third-rate hotel, more boarding house  than anything else, with a restaurant. The very phrase effect that draws his attention, is "The Devil laughs behind every door." Struck by the letter, almost immediately called by Commissioner Bianchi, a friend of his, and is informed that at The Hotel of the Three Roses has been a crime.

Once there, they notice a commotion. Since it is evening, the restaurant room is full: in addition to occasional customers, there are those who play a game of cards, and then the regular customers of the pension. The police are informed that on the third floor, Bardi, a hunchback who lives in retirement, found hanged the young Douglas Layng. It seems to have been put to impress or Carlo Da Como, a man who was born rich and has dispelled all his wealth by living a dissolute, or a German, Vilfredo Engel, a friend of Da Como: it is thought that it may be a warning to one of them, because to go to the rooms where they live, they need to pass where the young man was hanged.
The young man, however, seems hung, not hanged. The fact is that theGuardia Medica” (public doctor who works by evening and by night), can not say more than what he sees because the light is very dim: then, at  the light of a bulb high brightness recovered downstairs, he, removed clothes, realizes that the young man was stabbed. The clothes, however, are not torn, a sign that after being stripped clean by the blood, it was covered, and then hung up. A horrible hoax: why? Brought the corpse at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, they make another discovery: the corpse has the secondary flaccidity that occurs after rigor mortis. But, how long is he dead? First we assume a time, but then the importance of the discovery of a cup on the bedside table, coffee cup that would not have been able to be there when the reorganization took place in the morning because the room would have been brought down, it is assumed that the murder occurred after; the fact that it was thoroughly washed, suggests some dissolved substance, or poison, or sleeping pills. The first hypothesis is to be discarded because it would not make sense to poison, stab, and then finally hang the same person; so you think about a narcotic. An examination of the room ensures that under the bedspread, the sheet below is all soaked in blood, a sign that the body naked or otherwise undressed was left there for some time.  How did it change the rigor mortis: one thinks about  a stove, but they do not find traces of it.
Many people are suspicious. First, those who are on the floor where he was found the hanged, among them Engel, who proves to be afraid of something, in addition to possessing a strange thing for a man: a doll. What's even more strange is that even Layng owned a doll, as well as a Swedish nineteen, such Karin Nolan. Three dolls alike, holding three different people. It 's clear that there must be a bond. And since for better,  one of the three owners was killed, De Vincenzi suspects  that the murderer still wants to kill.
To complicate matters, it is also the arrival, just after the discovery of the body,  of a pair of tourists from British nationality, the spouses Flemington, who, having been informed of the sad randomness and invited to go to another hotel, they prefer to declare who must stay in this third-rate. Immediately to the Commissioner, the Flemington wife seems very scared, terrified to even when she knows the identity of the victim. It 's easy to understand that even they know something , but…what?
Among the many regular customers, there is one that immediately catches the attention of the Commissioner: he is a Levantine, from Cypriot nationality, who ekes out a living by making the fortune teller and selling various knick-knacks. Entered at the Layng’s room , immediately declares that that atmosphere is saturated with death and that there someone was killed at 12.30, the day before. Besides this, he says nothing: the only thing he tells it’s he picked up a wickled aura.
Also reticent is the hunchback Bardi, whom De Vincenzi understands have been the mysterious and anonymous writer of the letter delivered to the police station made​​, especially as the typewriter in his room has the same flaws of the characters encountered by him on the typescript.
Other characters are the blonde Stella Essington, starlet, who is visibly frightened and he doesn’t tell anything but she must have seen something; and the same Karin Nolan, a relative of a soldier who had fought in the Boer War, says she does not know anything.
it’s found a scrap of paper on which, signed by a certain Julius Lassinger, he promises more deaths, because the young man killed is the first of a series.
Before that, however, the Commissioner begin to understand anything, in that board so cramped, so dimly lit, littered with cops, takes a second murder: the Cypriot magician, Giorgio Novarreno, is found stabbed. De Vincenzi had given orders to guard the garden closed,  on which look out the windows of the various rooms, but due to the heavy rain his deputy  it was not felt to place a column in the rain. The fact is that the window is open, and since it has not gone out the door because the murderer  would have to pass in front of the cops who say that no one has passed, he has to be passed by the window. In fact, at the foot of the wall, there is a long staircase, lying sideways. The fact is clear: the murderer through the ladder, he must be climbed, he must have met with Novarreno (who probably had the intention to blackmail him) and should have killed him and then the murderer went back downstairs using the same scale. He doesn’t  understand why the killer risking to lose time to fix it, being the the possibility of being seen. Moreover, the only internal access door to the garden is given by the restaurant, but when the cops  break in, no one says he saw someone enter and exit through the door window, nor are the wet footprints that there should be because it's raining outside heavily. In short, a classic mystery of Locked Room. How did the murderer do?
One of the fixed tenants of the property is such Besesti Pompeo, a wealthy industrialist who has not yet returned to the hotel.  Another is Al Nicola Righetti, an Italian-American, by his own confession, who travelled in several foreign cities, the last of which is New York. De Vincenzi suspects, but he has no evidence that he actually is an american gangster. These two men do not seem to have any weight in the death of the young man, because Besesti was out and Righetti was dining in the restaurant, and there are witnesses who saw him to dinner. Also there is another suspect still: a woman, Mary Alton, arrived at the hotel the night of the discovery of the corpse of Layng, who appears to have a dark past. She also owns a doll.
In short, there are suspects galore.
Dawn does not want to announce that terrible night: in fact another deadly event, comes to disturb De Vincenzi, Sani & Co. It is found Karin Nolan, with scissors stuck in his chest: she is immediately sent to the hospital and De Vincenzi, fearing that she might die, he does
not even pull out the scissors from his chest. And it is good because, she, well stated grave, is saved. This time the murderer has failed. The series was interrupted. Who is Julius Lassinger?
Vilfredo Engel reveals the story that is the basis of this slaughter: both the brother and  the greater Alton, both Nolan had been part of the army, in particular a battery of light artillery, and in this capacity they had fought in the Boer War. But before enlisting, both Nolan and Alton both Lessinger had been partners in a company that dealt with the extraction of diamonds. Over time, Lessinger had hoarded the best diamonds , not always with his own merits, but also deceiving the two partners. This had increased the desire of the other two, who, envious, had conceived a plan to recover their stones: with the excuse to flush out the rebels, once enrolled, they had raided the property of Lessinger where he lived with the three daughters, and they had been slain, with the complicity of Engel. The precious diamonds had been hidden. Engel died shortly thereafter, Nolan time after while Alton had survived for several years, and he, old man already, he had married  with Mary Alton, right in the Hotel of the Three Roses.
And Julies Lessinger? He was the only son of the former diamond miner, enlisted as a soldier at the time of the murder of his father and sisters, and for this fact, escaped the massacre, who had vowed to take revenge. It’s obvious that  he is killing the characters. But what Layng had nothing to do? It is established that he was the son of Major Alton, who had a relationship with Ms. Flemington before she remarried with the lawyer: he had to read the last will of that Major Alton, who close to dying, ordered the division of his substance between 3 entitled: Engel, Nolan and Layng.
But, to throw more dust in the face, he’s just Besesti, the President of the Society of Pure Metals, who, when questioned from De Vincenzi, confesses the fact that he had blackmailed in the past Alton  and he forced him to finance his company, threatening to reveal what he knew from the mouth of Julius Lessinger. Only, he reveals a puzzling thing: if before  it was thought Lessinger  had an accomplice at the hotel, as he was unable to write in Italian, barely knowing English, now we learn that Lessinger may not have been the author of these crimes, because he, Lessinger, died in 1913.  So who is the murderer?
De Vincenzi will find out who is the killer not before yet another victim has been sacrificed. And not before the reading of the will has provided the final pieces because the guilty, mad, be entrusted with the care of a psychiatric prison.

The Hotel of the Three Roses is one of the finest novels of detective fiction Italian of '900: first, it is very well written, with descriptions of the characters that secure well in mind; the same psychological characteristics are extremely determined, and along with the physical ones, he realize fully particular subjects;  the story is compelling, and uses a device that is directly derived from Conan Doyle (the Valley Of Fear): something happened in the past which is the basis of the tragedy that is happening in the present. There are many red herrings, distracting the reader and lead him to consider the roads are impossible to follow, but instead the story is very simple, and also the true motive is simple; there is a Locked Room very interesting (not an expanse of snow, but a garden completely wet with rain, such that the murderer should leave wet footprints, and instead he doesn’t leave them, and he behaves in a strange way,  not like anyone who didn’t want to be seen, he would involve).
There are continuous staging: the dolls that appear; the corpse stabbed, then stripped, coated in such a way that does not see the blood, and hanged; the attempt to eliminate the rigor mortis; the appearance of the real mother of the victim; two different testaments; and finally a marriage of which you do not know anything.
This ploy is typical in English novelists (such in Agatha Christie).
In De Angelis you note, however, an extreme version of the stories and characters that are very strong: there are no weak subjects, but all could be the murderer, or at least they have hidden something then joined the rest, form the puzzle reassembled. Even, Bardi, the hunchback, that starts the whole story with the anonymous letter, is a strong character: as he feels a victim of the system for his morphological diversity, he hates more than the others, even though he has feelings of protection against people he considers weak as he was. And it is precisely because he wants to save one of these people, which the notifies to the Commissioner about  something imminent that he thinks is going to happen in that house. But in his anonymous letter there is a misconception that plays in favor of events. He moves to save an innocent, but does not know that the threat is part of a far greater plot .
Beyond this, the critical judgment can not pinning that on other things.
The spirit in which the novel is written is affected by the creeping xenophobia against foreigners (the Italian people was perfect, the others not: in this, the fascist and Nazi propaganda were the same), but it is nevertheless a fact that there had to be otherwise the fascist censorship would not have never authorized the publication of the novel. For the rest, the novel tells the story of three crimes occurred in a hotel (and a fourth alleged, more an attempt to murder), but where several clients reside permanently. More than hotel we could call it a boarding house, with the restaurant. This is a very important detail that I recommend: in fact, years later Steeman wrote L'assassin habite au 21, a novel that takes place in a boarding house.
I would say Steeman might very well have read the novel by  De Angelis, because in those times, De Angelis was the detective novelist most famous in Italy. If Steeman in plot owes something to Agatha Christie, with regard to the place of drama he repeats what it surely already had been written by De Angelis.  Compared to Steeman and Ten Little Niggers by Christie, the De Angelis novel has, however, extremely claustrophobic atmosphere that accentuates the tension spasmodically. In some ways it is very close to The Greene Murder Case by S.S. Van Dine or The Tragedy of Y by Ellery Queen. Furthermore, for the particular that two of the three crimes, including a presumed Locked Room, take place in circumstances impossible or almost, in a hotel guarded by police, may have been tributary of Noel Vindry, that in some of his novels (for example,  Le Piège aux and diamonds and La Bête hurlante written the first, one year before and the second two years before) he let  guard the house by the police.

Pietro De Palma