A supernatural mystery set in an old seaside house from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author known as the American Agatha Christie. Though he likes to joke about the spirit world, William Porter does not really believe in ghosts. As a professor, he cannot afford to take seriously that which goes bump in the night. But his wife, Jane, is prone to visions, like the one she had last summer about William’s uncle Horace lying dead on the floor—a dream that came just hours before they got the news that the old man had passed away.
A year later, William plans to spend the summer at his recently inherited beachfront property with Jane, but a feeling of psychic dread gives her hesitation, and William will later regret convincing her to go. The house is musty, eerie, and littered with supernatural portents—most chillingly, the faint red light that glows in the wee hours. If they don’t escape soon, William and his wife may be visiting the spirit world themselves.
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.