The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet

A Detective Story

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Published: 1911
Language: English
Wordcount: 69,487 / 203 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 89.6
LoC Category: PS
Series: Jim Godfrey
Downloads: 3,246
Added to site: 2005.02.28 9846

"The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet" is not a French detective story, insasmuch as the scene is laid right in the heart of New York City; but it is worthy of the best French masters of detective fiction in its audacity of plot, in the logical and at the same time baffling manner in which the clues are unwound, in its astonishing turns and twists, its astounding dénouement, and above all in its wonderful central figure, who is one of the few really great characters in detective fiction.

Show Excerpt

down at the body, and as I followed his gaze, I noted its attitude more accurately than I had done in the first shock of discovering it.

It was lying on its right side, half on its stomach, with its right arm doubled under it, and its left hand clutching at the floor above its head. The knees were drawn up as though in a convulsion, and the face was horribly contorted, with a sort of purple tinge under the skin, as though the blood had been suddenly congealed. The eyes were wide open, and their glassy stare added not a little to the apparent terror and suffering of the face. It was not a pleasant sight, and after a moment, I turned my eyes away with a shiver of repugnance.

The coroner glanced at Simmonds.

"Not much question as to the cause," he said. "Poison of course."

"Of course," nodded Simmonds.

"But what kind?" asked Godfrey.

"It will take a post-mortem to tell that," and Goldberger bent for another close look at the distorted face. "I'm free to admit the symptoms aren't the usual ones


Average Rating of 4.2 from 5 reviews: *****
Leah A. Zeldes

Another in Burton E. Stevenson's excellent Godfrey and Lester series, which begins with "The Holladay Case" — possibly the best yet. Godfrey, ex-cop-turned-newspaperman, and his Watson, Lester, puzzle over several mysterious murders involving an unknown poison, a priceless piece of furniture and a daring Frenchman. Godfrey is at his most active and brilliant here (although the reader may well see things he doesn't), but he does require some suspension of disbelief.

Stevenson, once a reporter and newspaper editor himself, surely knew that journalists don't behave like Godfrey — unless something has changed dramatically since the 1890s — but possibly his subsequent career as director of the Chillicothe, Ohio, public library was so dull that he felt a need to imbue his earlier trade with more thrills.

Dai Alanye

Typical old-fashioned detective novel but with some thriller aspects. Not a bad read but preposterous in certain aspects.

First, we have experienced men--including attorney Lester, the "Watson" of the series--going into hysterics and collapsing like little girls when presented with something unexpected. Second, the "Holmes" of the series--super detective Godfrey--lets himself be drawn away from the scene at a critical time, regardless that he knew that it was going to be the key happening.

But if the reader willingly suspends a degree of skepticism...


A worthy continuation of the Lester / Godfrey series with a feel more along the lines of \"The Marathon Mystery\" than its immediate predecessor \"That Affair at Elizabeth\". The author creatively renders the titular Boule cabinet itself an antagonist during the first part of the book, along with the master French criminal introduced later on. In fact I found there to be much more tension and interest generated in the first part of the novel than the second, after the flesh-and-blood villain appears. Nevertheless, a good read all the way through.

Linda Otto

Such fun! I've been reading my way through the Godfrey and Lester mysteries. Manybooks has all of the previous ones--start with the Holladay Case, then the Marathon Mystery, then this one.

This is my favorite so far. A master criminal who, with becoming modesty, calls himself L'Invicible! Subtle. It was wonderful. Subterfuge after subterfuge. Godfrey and Lester are definitely worthwhile. Great escapist fare. Enjoy!

Im Cheungjun

Mr. Vantine, a connoisseur of antique art objects, finds a stranger from France dead in his house. A few hours later, Mr. Vantine himself is found dead in the same place, in the same manner. Their deaths seem to have something to do with a Boule Cabinet that has been shipped to him by mistake from France.

This is a very well-written, old- fashioned thriller. The process of the mystery deepening and unravelling is charming.

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