The Picture from the Past

Just returned from a month’s vacation on the other side of the world. Great while it lasted, but now back to work.

The Picture from the Past is now out in paperback and will be out in Kindle before the day is out, I hope. This is another very enjoyable Dr. Twist novel from the great Paul Halter.

Anyone looking for a signed and dedicated copy should contact me now on Demand has increased and you don’t want to miss out.

In Praise of Honkaku

The editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Janet Hutchings, flattered me by inviting me to write a blog on any subject. As I have had a lot of dealings with Shimada Soji recently, I decided to write a piece lamenting the attitude of most western critics (Publisher’s Weekly and Washington Post excepted) towards classic detection and contrasting that with its immense popularity in Japan (particularly the locked room variety) where it is called “honkaku.” Janet herself bemoans the fact that she gets almost no submissions from present American writers.

I think part of the reason that classic detection does not get the respect it deserves is that we insist on calling it “Golden Age Detection.” The vary name implies it’s all in the past; over and done with. The term “honkaku” (orthodox) describes the books themselves, not the period when they were once written, and it’s kind of punchy, which is why I like it.

Here’s the blog. It is preceded by a very flattering introduction; not altogether surprising since I pretty well wrote it 🙂

International Impossibilities

It’s always satisfying (and comforting) to have one’s efforts recognized, as with the Frankfurt Book Fair digital edition of Publisher’s Weekly, p 18.

It is my experience so far that, the more LRI gets known, the more treasures I stumble across. There is no shortage of great forgotten books: the only constraints are (a) how much time I can spend in a given year and (b) whether there are any rights issues.

Welcome to the new site

Well, the material is basically the same, but I’ve switched to a new format based on WordPress, which will theoretically allow more flexibility as I go along (and is, apparently much better suited to viewing on mobile devices.)

I’ve also added a second, shorter, domain name:, which will also bring you to this site ( was already taken.)

Astute observers will have noted the presence of a book not translated from the French: The Derek Smith Omnibus, which, incidentally,  got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, followed by a rapturous review from the Washington Post:

This reflects a broadening scope of LRI’s mission: we shall be adding out-of-print locked room jewels by English authors as well as translations from other languages than French — for example Swedish– wherever we can negotiate a reasonable royalty deal.

More of this in more detail as we go along. Thank you for your patience.

Soji Shimada

Soji Shimada is credited with the revival of the Golden Age style of mystery writing in Japan:the New Orthodox or Shin Honkaku style.. The publication of his masterpiece The Tokyo Zodiac Murders in 1981 challenged the social school of writing dominant at the time and encouraged a new generation of Golden Age authors. Would that the same had happened here….

Jean-Paul Török

M. Török is a versatile and well-respected figure in French cultural circles. He is a celebrated film critic, radio producer and film director of note, having been nominated for the Golden Palm for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival for La Ligne de Sceaux. In addition to his directorial talents, he also wrote the screenplay for A Bad Son. He is equally well-known in literary circles, his biography of Pierre Benoit, author of l’Atlantide, having been honored by the Académie française.

Paul Halter

Paul Halter was born in Hagenau, Alsace, in 1956. He pursued technical studies before joining the French Marines in the hope of seeing the world. Disappointed with the lack of travel, he left the military and, for a while, sold life insurance while augmenting his income playing the guitar in the local dance orchestra. he gave up life insurance for a job in France Telecom and, upon discovering the writings of John Dickson Carr, gave up the guitar for the pen.

Paul Halter, a Master of Locked Rooms.
Paul Halter’s own website

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders: Update

LRI had been planning to re-publish Shimada Soji’s masterpiece in August, but there has been a complication regarding rights and it will not happen, at least for the time being. Further explanations will be forthcoming at the appropriate time, but I can assure readers it was not the result of any disagreement between the author and myself. Our relationship is very amicable and I hope to publish more of his works at a later date.