Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Demon of Dartmoor by Paul Halter

The Demon of DartmoorAt the turn of the Century in Dartmoor, a Woman was pushed down to her death from the stairs of her aesthetically beautiful home called Trerice Manor, by an Invisible hand. Fifty years later on Wish Tor peak in Dartmoor, a young beautiful woman is plunged from the peak to her death, the locals find playing cards scattered over her dead body. Next year, history repeats itself, another girl dies in the same way, witnesses claim that she was talking to an enigmatic stranger who they could not see, later two lovers reported that the poor girl was pushed in the abyss by an invisible man, again a few playing cards are splattered near the dead body. Same time next year, A third victim is claimed by the invisible man and this time the dead body of the poor girl disappears without leaving a vestige.

Few years later, Nigel Manson, a successful actor comes to Dartmoor with his wife and buys Trerice Manor, now lying in desolation. Nigel is smitten by the house and gets is restored. He invites his impresario, Frank, and his co-actor/mistress, Natalie, to spend the weekend with them. Nigel is sitting on the window ledge, of his splendid house getting photographed by his beautiful mistress who is standing at the ground below. Mrs Manson, Frank and the village doctor are in the same room as Nigel, suddenly Nigel is propelled out of the window and he cracks open his head on impact with the ground, Nigel immediately dies. Witnesses in the room, and Natalie claim that there was no one behind Nigel neither could he have slipped, so how did he fell? Witnesses claim that they felt that he was pushed from the ledge by an invisible man.

Dr Alan Twist, the famous criminologist and Inspector Archibald Hurst are called in to Dartmoor. The moors where legends of hell hounds, murderous invisible men and the red devil do the rounds in the local inn with rounds of beer, where legends and macabre tales are interwoven in the lives of the people. Twist and Hurst have to now lift the veil of superstition and catch the demon of Dartmoor before it strikes again.


Dr Twist and Hurst:

A fantastic way for me to finish my summer reading, this one is a cracker. An impossible crime mystery written in the style of the good old days of GAD.  John Pugmire deserves special mention for translating this gem from French to English, had I not known that the book has been translated I would have considered this the author's native language.

 The Impossibility of the crimes are compounded by the legends and macabre tales that the locales frequently exchange with the detective duo, this sets up a spooky ambiance in the book along with setting of the moors, half of the battle with a reader like me is won when the setting is right and there is an impossible crime conundrum. The other half is pacing of the book, the mystery and the solution.

The pacing of the book is like the best of Carr Novels, its about 156 pages of pure fun, not long and not too short. Paul Halter contrives an excellent plot, every page of the book serves as an important part of the mystery. There are no random dialogues, situations or characters, everything is carefully planned to serve as a part of the mystery. Paul Halter builds the mystery to a crescendo and then comes up with an elegant and simple solution to the conundrum of the Invisible killer. Solution to one of the murders is a little unsatisfactory but the central plot and mystery are of a superlative nature.I think this is one of the best book I have read in a long time and probably the best Halter I have read. Even the characters are done just right, they are congruous to the setting and mystery whether its Nigel's crew or the village folks.

4 out of 5 stars.

Where can I get it? This can be bought from homeshop18 for over thousand bucks, I got it for 1008, since the limitless fall of the rupee I think it has becomes more expensive. A better idea would be to buy the kindle version from Amazon which you can get for half the price.



  1. Thank you for you fine review and your kind comments about my translation.

    I am about to publish a translation of a work featuring a French detective with all the characteristics of Sherlock Holmes, but appearing 17 years before Conan Doyle's first story. I would like to include in the same volume The Gramophone Pin Mystery, as I am a great admirer of the Bengali Sherlock, Byomkesh Bakshi

    Unfortunately, Penguin Books in New Delhi, although helpful, ultimately were unable to put me in touch with the holder of the English language rights. If you or any of your readers can help, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I can be reached at

    Keep up the good work!

    Best wishes

    John Pugmire

    1. Hi John,

      Love your Work, looking forward to reading more from you. Will love to help you out, If I find out anything will shoot you an email. Thanks for the Kind words.

    2. Rishi,
      Can you email me at pugmire1@yahoo com? There's something I'd like to discuss.



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