A dark country house in the middle of nowhere. A murderer has been stalking the countryside nearby and the inhabitants of the house, especially the young maid Helen, are battening down the hatches for safety. A feeling of terror is pervading the house and as the killer creeps closer – apparently – the occupants start behaving even more erratically than normal.
As the numbers in the house start dwindling, Helen begins to worry about something pretty obvious – is it possible that the killer is locked in with them rather than locked out?
Inspired by next Saturday’s Bodies From The Library panel where Sarah Ward will pit Elizabeth Daly against Ethel Lina White, as championed by Christine Poulson, I thought I should check out both authors as, while they have been on my radar, I’ve not read either of them before. After the disappointing The House Without The Door – apparently not the best choice – I figured Ethel Lina White would triumph in the head to head. I picked this one ahead of The Wheel Spins aka The Lady Vanishes. I wonder whether that would have been a better choice…
Because this one… well, it’s very atmospheric. Unfortunately the atmosphere in the house is all anybody reacts to. If I just wanted atmosphere then I can always go here:
Yes, there’s another death eventually, but almost the entire tale is about what the characters think is happening, rather than what actually does.
Admittedly, some exciting things may have happened in the latter half of the book, but I’d mentally switched off by then. There are people who like this one but it just wasn’t my sort of thing. A tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
So Daly wins this for me, admittedly almost be default. She, at least, was trying to construct a formal mystery plot, despite grabbing one of the oldest chestnuts out there, which at least one modern mystery best-seller used as well. But this one… Not Recommended, I’m afraid.