“The purpose, the illusion, the spirit of a waxworks. It is an atmosphere of death. It is soundless and motionless… Do you see?” Last night Mademoiselle Duchene was seen heading into the Gallery of Horrors at the Musee Augustin waxworks, alive. Today she was found in the Seine, murdered. The museum’s proprietor, long perturbed by the unnatural vitality of his figures, claims that he saw one of them following the victim into the dark – a lead that Henri Bencolin, head of the Paris police and expert of ‘impossible’ crimes, cannot possibly resist. Surrounded by the eerie noises of the night, Bencolin prepares to enter the ill-fated waxworks, his associate Jeff Marle and the victim’s fiance in tow. Waiting within, beneath the glass-eyed gaze of a leering waxen satyr, is a gruesome discovery and the first clues of a twisted and ingenious mystery. First published in 1932 at the height of crime fiction’s Golden Age, this macabre and atmospheric dive into the murky underground of Parisian society presents an intelligent puzzle delivered at a stunning pace.
(When published in the UK, this book was titled The Waxworks Murder.)
This new edition also includes ‘The Murder in Number Four’, a rare Inspector Bencolin short story.
British Library Publishing, 2021 (1932)