A haunted seaside mansion - a series of suspicious deaths...
Perfect gothic crime fiction for fans of Shirley Jackson
'Showcases her extraordinary gift for sustaining high levels of tension ... reminiscent of Shirley Jackson ... and she excels at the tantalising tease' Publishers Weekly
William Porter has just inherited a seaside manor. As an academic, he doesn't believe the rumours that it is haunted - nor is he suspicious of the circumstances behind the inheritance - after all, lots of people die suddenly from heart attacks, and his uncle Horace was just unlucky.
His wife, however, refuses to live in the main house and will only move into the lodge elsewhere on the grounds. And she may be right: soon after they arrive, Porter sees a shadowy figure illuminated by the red glow of Horace's writing lamp, the very light that shone on the scene of his death.
Even Porter's scepticism is tested to the limit when a rash of murders occurs across the countryside. And if Porter isn't very careful, he risks implicating himself in the crimes he hopes to solve.
Originally published in 1925, this entry in the American Mystery Classics series from Rinehart (1876 1958) showcases her extraordinary gift for sustaining high levels of tension. The plot is recounted through diary entries made in 1922 by William Porter, a literature professor, who inherited a large house near the town of Oakville from his uncle Horace. Horace was found dead in his home, apparently from heart failure, hours after Porter's wife, Jane, had a vision of Horace lying still on the library floor. Despite misgivings about the circumstances of Horace's death, and local insistence that the house is haunted, Porter rents it out to an invalid and his secretary. More deaths follow, and Porter becomes a person of interest to the police. Rinehart's prose is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson ("All houses in which men have lived and suffered and died are haunted houses"), and she excels at the tantalizing tease, as in the prologue, when Porter is asked about what really happened in 1922, and he refers to a "diabolical symbol" found near the bodies of slaughtered sheep. Fans of eerie whodunits with a supernatural tinge will relish this reissue.