Author(s): Richard Tomlinson
It is April 1919 and a detective arrives at a dingy apartment near Paris's Gare du Nord, acting on a tip-off from a housemaid. Within days, a war-weary nation will be transfixed by a tale of sex, horror and revenge. Henri Désiré Landru, a 50-year-old swindler, stands accused of killing ten women and one young man after luring them to the countryside outside Paris. Landru demes all charges, while the police find no certain trace of the missing women, seven of whom were last seen in the village of Gambais. It is as if they have simply vanished. Yet the truth about the 'Bluebeard of Gambais', buried for the next hundred years in the Paris police archives, is even more disturbing than the prosecution case. Landru kills more women, probably many more, than the ten victims on the charge sheet, snaring his fiancées with artful lonely hearts adverts. And this lethal misogynist preys on hundreds of other women - at stations, outside factories, on buses and in public parks - during his bowler-hatted rampage across a wartime Paris stripped bar of eligible men. Two indomitable young sleuths, a housemaid and a belle époque beauty, join forces in this female revengers' tragedy to track down the killer of their sisters. Yet Landrum may still escape justice. The stage is set for the trial of the century - a murder case with no bodies, a gallery packed with celebrities, from Maurice Chevalier to Rudyard Kipling, and a brilliant attorney battling to save Landru from the guillotine. Landru's Secret unearths the first convincing solution to the mystery of the missing bodies and reveals: Landru killed more women, probably many more, than the official murder count. The police failed to race 72 women who made 'romantic contact' with Landru. The investigating magistrate missed the vital clue that turned a swindler into a monstrous serial killer. Book jacket.