I am so excited to tell people about this book.  It’s witty and campy at the same time.  It belongs firmly in the “B” or pulp category — but deliciously so.  Reminiscent of the smart, slapstick movie Clue, it is just plain fun.

Older (but not elderly) Miss Cornelia is of New York blue-blood stock.  She is bored with the charity luncheons and small talk.  She determines to escape the hot air (real and figurative) of another NYC summer and rent a house in the country.  When a high-powered banker dies unexpectedly, his nephew quickly leases the house to Miss Cornelia, happy to have the worry off his mind.

No sooner has she moved in for the summer, than unsettling things begin happening.  On top of that, a masked criminal nicknamed The Bat has been prowling the area.  One innocent afternoon slowly evolves into a stormy night with locked room puzzles, unknown guests, and murder.

Her characters are snarky and blunt, even in their inner monologues.

Miss Cornelia resented his offhand demolition of the mental card-castle she had erected with such pride.  ~ Loc. 1139 of 3299

He followed her unwillingly up the stairs, his while manner seeming to betray a complete lack of confidence in the theories of all amateur sleuths in general and spinster detectives of sixty-five in particular.  ~ Loc. 2269 of 3299

Mary Robert Rinehart
Mary Roberts Rinehart

The writing is not highbrow but it is highly entertaining.  The characters are brash and breezy, as is the plot.  Rinehart pulls together a set of disparate circumstances and creates an enjoyable, if silly mystery.

It is one of many vintage classics from the archives of The Mysterious Press.  Their page cites:

The books offered by are currently out of print but protected by copyright, and will take advantage of digital reading formats to bring classic fiction to new audiences. Currently, we’re in the process of digitizing books by some of the most distinguished and best-selling crime writers in the world. In the not-too-distant future, we plan to publish original novels by previously published authors, as well as by talented newcomers.

Luckily, they have pulled together a number of Rinehart’s works — all with fabulous cover designs.  I can’t wait to read another.

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Many thanks to Road Media for the NetGalley review copy.

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