Anthony Boucher (review date 17 November 1963)
SOURCE: A review of The 10:30 from Marseilles, in The New York Times Book Review, November 17, 1963, p. 58.
[Anthony Boucher was a pseudonym used by William Anthony Parker White, who was a mystery writer and critic. In the following excerpt, he favorably assesses The 10:30 from Marseilles.]
Sebastien Japrisot, one of France's distinguished translators (he was, for instance, the first French translator of J. D. Salinger), recently won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, the major French crime-novel award, for his second novel, Piège Pour Cendrillon (A Trap for Cinderella)—of which one of the jurors exclaimed, "C'est le Marienbad du roman policier!" His first novel, Compartiment Tueurs, which some French critics have preferred to the prizewinner, now appears here, in a highly readable translation by Francis Price, as The 10:30 from Marseilles. It clearly reveals the most welcome new talent in the detective story to reach us from France since … well, probably since the early Simenons almost three decades ago.
This is largely a straight police-procedural starring the likable and believable Inspector Grazziano of the Police Judiciaire; but is also a puzzle-novel in the classic mold, with a fine setup of murder in a train compartment sleeping six, with the remaining five (suspects or witnesses?) being steadily eliminated by death as the Inspector investigates them. There are excellent flashbacks into the lives and characters of the compartment sleepers and admirable use of that rare device, the Least Suspected Detective. In all, a highly satisfactory import that makes one hungry for more.