`The Mystery of the Yellow Room' by Gaston Leroux is usually placed in the first rank of `closed-room' murder mysteries and well deserves that place. It is dominated by the personality of Joseph Rouletabillle, a reporter with a distinct `nose' for solving mysteries. Initially I found it unreasonable to imagine a reporter in his late teens being given such responsibility but, several chapters later, such was his self-confidence, ability to manipulate individuals, sharp observation of the environment and skilful construction of hypotheses, I was ready to believe anything of that marvellous individual. All the other characters revolve around him, notably the narrator and Frederic Larsan, the `top detective' whose seat Joseph seeks to occupy.
As a typical feature of the time (1908) the crime centres on an innocent young girl, but one who survives tight-lipped about the whole affair. Her fiancé is equally non-forthcoming and refuses to explain his disappearances when the unknown culprit appears. An over-enthusiastic detective harries the poor man into the dock, only Rouletabille doubts his guilt. The initial attack takes place in a locked room with no means of escape and two subsequent attempts by the'attacker' end in his disappearance, albeit in the last with the murder of a man suspected of the crime.
The book is full of twists and the solution doesn't rest on mere physical access but also on the personalities of the key characters and their past history. I didn't guess the identity of the culprit but I could follow the final explanation with relative ease and see how I had been hoodwinked by a master of his craft.
So I'm not going to reveal who does what - you can spoil the fun for yourself by consulting Wikipedia. I'm just urging you to savour the mystery as how a skilful conjurer can play with YOUR reasoning powers.
One minor quible: the Kindle edition sets the scene in 1802; this should be 1892.