The Bat

TERROR WAS MASTER OF THE MANOR…

When lovely Dale Ogden came to the isolated Van Gorder manor to act as companion to the strange and eccentric woman who ruled the household with a grip of iron, she little suspected the turn her unshadowed life would take. Why was there chill fear in the eyes of everyone she met, from the faithful family retainers to the haunted man for whom she felt so dangerous an attraction? What secret horror past and present did the twisted corridors and windswept countryside conceal? And why, suddenly, inexplicably did she feel herself marked as a victim?

Written by Mary Roberts Rinehart. New Dell Edition First Printing 1969.

The story takes place in a large, isolated country house recently rented by an  elderly, adventure-loving patrician called Cornelia Van Gorder, who is accompanied by her beautiful young niece Dale Ogden.

But this is no idyllic summer retreat. There is a masked criminal stalking the streets –  robbing the rich he strikes soundlessly in the night, vanishing into thin air while leaving a trail of dead police and even deader millionaires in his wake.

Get him – get him – get him! From a thousand sources now the clamor arose – press, police and public alike crying out for the capture of the master criminal of a century – lost voices hounding a spectre down the alleyways of the wind.

Cornelia has been following the exploits of this masked marauder and it has not escaped her attention that three of the Bat’s most recent crimes have been committed within a mere twenty miles of very house she is currently staying in.

Cover from Cover Browser

Soon enough all manner of strange comings and goings start scaring off the staff, leaving the indomitable Ms. Cordelia faced with a long restless night in her house full of  horror. Throw in a secret room, a murder, a cache of hidden money, not to mention the forbidden romance between her young niece and the new ‘gardener’ – who incidentally believes Urticaria is a new hybrid of rhubarb – and the night proves to be an eventful one.

Get whom, in God’s name – get what? Beast, man or devil? A spectre – a flying shadow – the shadow of the Bat.

Originally written as a play in 1926, The Bat has a real old-fashioned murder mystery feel to it. There are moments of real suspense, mixed with some genuinely funny dialogue and though I wouldn’t describe it as gothic,  it’s still worth a read. The gorgeously whimsical cover is by Hector Garrido. Three out of five stars.

To watch the silent film version – click HERE.


Lost Ecstasy

ECHOES OF A DANGEROUS LOVE

“Why have you come back?”

It was dark, but Tom glanced around to make sure no one had seen them. “Just to look at you. I don’t want to make any trouble.”

Suddenly he gazed at her with a strange, smouldering intensity. Look, you may hear things about me. You will… I’m human. But this goes, now and forever…there’s only you. Do you understand? Only you…”

Kay’s Love for Tom was deep and passionate but was it strong enough to withstand the whispered rumors about his past that shadowed her life with terror?

Written by Mary Roberts Rinehart. First published 1927. Seventh Dell printing June 1968. Cover by Victor Kalin.

Oh my, I just had to share this lovely Dell edition with some more gorgeous artwork by Victor Kalin. Flicking through the pages, Lost Ecstasy seems to be more of a ‘romance on the ranch’ kind of a read rather than gothic – though with a cover like this I’d be willing to swap vampires for sexy cowboys any day of the week.

Mary Roberts Rinehart was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1876. She trained as a nurse and became a full-time writer in 1903. A lot of her novels are sold as gothics or works of mystery romance and  are widely respected for their humour and complex storylines. Known as the “American Agatha Christie” she was also the highest paid author in the US during the first half of the 20th Century.

I’m hoping to review some of her books over the coming months so if you have any particular favourites or recommendations, please let me know.

In the meantime, more info on Mary Roberts Rinehart can be found HERE.

And Victor Kalin’s daughter has sent a link to more of her father’s stunning artwork HERE.