From the author of the famous The Phantom of the Opera comes this detective story. While this is not the first locked room mystery, it is the first such novel that features a detailed floorplan illustrating the crime scene. This provides an additional layer of information for the reader to follow along and try to solve the mystery.
The protagonist is the amateur sleuth and reporter Joseph Rouletabille who is sent to investigate a criminal case at the Château du Glandier and takes along his friend the lawyer Sainclair, who narrates. (This is the successful detective fiction template created by Edgar Allan Poe.)
Mathilde Stangerson, the daughter of the castle's owner, Professor Joseph Stangerson, was found near-critically battered in a room adjacent to his laboratory on the castle grounds, with the door still locked from the inside. This room is painted yellow and thus the title of the novel. Miss Stangerson recovers slowly but can give no useful testimony.
Rouletabille makes his investigations by interrogating various people such as the servant Jacques, the castle concierges Mr. and Mrs. Bernier, the gamekeeper, and the inn landlord. The official detective on the case is France's top man Frédéric Larsan. This creates a friendly rivalry between Rouletabille and Larsan. Larsan suspects Ms. Stangerson's fiancé, another scientist called Robert Darzac.
More attempts are made on Ms. Stangerson's life despite Rouletabille and Larsan's protection, and the perpetrator appears to vanish on two occasions when they are closing in on him ...
It is a very intricately developed mystery. This story finds its continuation in the 1908 novel The Perfume of the Lady in Black, wherein a number of the key characters familiar from this story reappear.
"For the many who delight in following the intricacies of crime and the avenging hand of justice this book has rare charms." - Boston Herald
"For the blood-curdling mystery to be solved only by a prematurely acute young reporter who has Sherlock Holmes beaten to a standstill, it would be hard to duplicate 'The Mystery of the Yellow Room.'" - Detroit Journal
"The plot of this remarkable story is so intricately woven and so elaborately developed that the reader's attention is positively enthralled from beginning to end." - Pittsburg Dispatch
"The author uses a young journalist as his hero. He has a mystery to solve, of course, but how he solves it is what readers of the 'Yellow Room' sit up nights and forget dinner hours to find out." - St. Paul News
1st edition 1907 as a serial, 1908 as novel; PDF 180 pages.
word count: 74685 which is equivalent to 298 standard pages of text