The Blood Stained Pavement

So we should be reviewing a Christmas mystery, but…

Tuesday

And I have been reviewing short stories from The Tuesday Club Murders AKAThe Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday! So we are taking a quick break from Christmas to review this

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“The Blood Stained Pavement” from The Tuesday Club Murder by Agatha Christie

PLOT SYNOPSIS:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know the answer to and call it: The Tuesday Night Club. 

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Our fourth mystery is shared by Joyce Lempriére, artist, and is one of my favorites in the collection.

This happened five years ago, when Joyce was visiting Cornwall, in a little village called Rathole. Joyce was getting ready to paint a scene when it was interrupted by a car and couple.

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A man and a plain women get out, but thankfully get back in and move the car up. Unfortunately, as they do, another car drives up in the spot-ruining the view Joyce wished to paint.

really?

The woman-in bright red chintz frock and large straw hat gets out but drives a bit up. Then Joyce overhears the three people greeting each other as the man in the couple, Denis, knows the scarlet woman, Carol, and introduces her to his plain wife-Margery.

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Joyce doesn’t mean to, but as she paints she overhears their conversation. They all decide to go bathing, swimming in the USA, but disagree on how to get to a famous cave. After much deliberating, Denis and Margery would boat around and Carol would walk around the cliffs and meet them there as she hates boats.

Hearing them talk about painting, made Joyce want to as well-as she has grown hot and dissatisfied with how her painting has turned out. She decides to take a break and return after a swim.

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She returns that afternoon, noticing that the group from earlier must have returned as well as she notices a dark blue swimsuit and a red on hanging out to dry at the Inn the group was staying at.

Something is off about her picture, and Joyce isn’t sure what…

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When she looks up she notices a Spanish man in seafaring clothes and paints him into her picture. After she captured him on the canvas, he came over to speak to her and tells her a story of when the Spanish attacked in the 15th Century, speaking of blood-blood being spilt on the pavement and no being able to wash the stain out.

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As he was talking Joyce continued to paint and realized that as she painted she painted in blood stains, drops of blood on the pavement…blood that it seems only she can see as her companion can not.

Shiver

Joyce quickly starts to put her things together as she needs to leave that spooky space, she and her companion are interrupted by the man from earlier, Denis. He asks them if they have seen Carol, while his wife clears the clothes from the balcony.

Both Joyce and her companion say they have not seen Carol, and the man yells up to his wife that Carol isn’t here and they need to get to Penrithar-driving off in the car.

Meanwhile, Joyce goes to the street and looks for the blood she saw but finds…nothing.

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Her companion sees her looking for the blood and shares an old Cornish saying: “If anyone sees those bloodstains that there will be a death within twenty-four hours.”

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As Joyce was heading to the cottage she was renting she spots the red hatted and clothed Carol coming down the cliffs…red like blood.

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It would have been a bit of fancy, except two days later Joyce read about a “Sea Bathing Fatality”. Mrs. Margery Dacre, wife of Captain Denis Dacre, drowned at Landeer Cove. They were staying at the hotel when she went swimming, while her husband golfed as he felt the water was too cold. When she didn’t return he became worried, and he and his friends went searching for her. A week later they discovered her body, and that she had a bad blow on her head, probably hit her head on a rock swimming. The estimated time of death came out to be 24 hours after Joyce saw the swimsuit.

Shiver

So of course this The Tuesday Club Murders, but how was Margery murdered and why?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I love this mystery as it has the spookiness of what Joyce saw paired with the logical truth of what Miss Marple figures out. I could see this as the basis of a film.

Iloveit love

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For more Agatha Christie, go to Ingots of Gold

For more from The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Idol House of Astarte

For more Miss Marple, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more short stories, go to The Strength of Their Attachment

 

 

Ingots of Gold

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So I have been reviewing short stories from The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“Ingots of Gold” from The Tuesday Club Murder by Agatha ChristieMary

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to and call it: The Tuesday Night Club. 

On the case!

Our third mystery is shared by Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew. Let me just say I don’t like this story as much as the others and Raymond just annoys me ugh:

This mystery isn’t really fair as Raymond doesn’t know the end, but wants to share it anyway.

Didn’t you hear the RULES?

Two years ago Raymond went to Polperran, Cornwall to spend Whitsuntide with a man called John Newman.

Wow, that is a very British sentence.

Raymond had met John a few weeks earlier and found him to be a very interesting person. He was an authority on Elizabethan times and was really into the Spanish Armada.

Newman was interested in a ship that wrecked off the coast of Cornwall. There had been an attempt to recover the treasure but the company went belly up-although Newman bought the rights.

Newman told the story about the ship in such a compelling way and Raymond was working on a novel is set in the 16th century so he journeyed up to meet with him and learn more.

He rode up and there was only one other person traveling that way. Raymond recognizes him and discovers that he is Inspector Badgworth.

They discuss the Spanish galleons, the whole thing is something that the Inspector knows all about. In fact, that area still sees wrecks as the Inspector goes on to tell Raymond that the ship Otranto was wrecked in that same area six months ago-no lives were lost but a shipment of gold bullion was lost.

A big salvage operation went on but the gold had disappeared!

The inspector was sent there to investigate, as did the gold disappear before or after the wreck? It’s big and bulky too-not easy to move or hide. So where did it go?

They arrive at the station and Raymond meets with Newman at Pol House. That night they spend time reading old manuscripts of the shipwreck Juan Fernandez and showed him diving apparatus.

They talk about the Otranto, and Newman says that the smuggling and wrecking is still in their blood. He takes him down to the tavern where he mets Newman’s diver Higgins and the landlord Mr. Kelvin.

As they are talking Mr. Kelvin tells them that they don’t like foreigners-police and others. This makes Raymond really uneasy as it seems like a threat.

That night Raymond’s uneasiness begins, and he can’t sleep. The next day he has a feeling of foreboding.

They go out on Newman’s boat but have to return because of the rain and the tempest continues.

That night Raymond sleeps deep but the sleep is awful and terrifying. He wakes up early the next morning. Raymond goes looking for Newman, who is usually up at the crack of dawn, but can’t find him. His bed had not been slept in, and if he went out-it was in his evening clothes as they were missing.

Raymond went looking all over for him, but no luck. He then goes to the Inspector and they start out a search.

They end up discovering Newman in a ditch on his property with his hands and feet tied up.

The night before Newman went on a walk to Smuggler’s Cove when he watched some men loading something from a boat. He snuck up to them and was struck from behind.

He came to in a truck that was full of the missing gold and was thrown out on his property and flung him out. He couldn’t say what the assailants looked like, but he knew by their speech they were Cornishmen.

They searched for the gold and the truck but found nothing.

Of course…that’s not the end of it. What happened to the gold? What happened to Newman? Who is the guilty party?

Thoughts After Reading:

Like I said this isn’t my favorite as Raymond kinda sucks-so yeah, it was okay. I thought it was obvious as to who was at fault, but didn’t figure the how until I read Miss Marple’s solution.

The best part is when Miss Marple schools Raymond:

“Well, dear Raymond,’ said Miss Marple, laying down her knitting and looking across at her nephew. ‘I do think you should be more careful how you choose your friends. You are so credulous, dear, so easily gulled. I suppose it is being a writer and having so much imagination. All that story about a Spanish galleon! If you were older and had more experience of life you would have been on your guard at once. A man you had known only a few weeks, too!”

You suck, Raymond!!!

For more Miss Marple, go to The Idol House of Astarte

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more short stories, go to The Strength of Their Attachment

The Strength of Their Attachment

“The Strength of Their Attachment” from Rational Creatures by Sophia Rose

So here at MysteriousEats.wordpress.com I wouldn’t call us lazy, but if my older sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com has already reviewed or posted something, we just copy and paste it minus the Austen-y things as we concentrate more on the mystery.

We all about that mystery.

So my sister blog reviewed a book Rational Creatures, short stories on different Jane Austen female characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Now most of these stories are not mysteries or have mysterious elements, so I just passed them by.

But the one that did interest me, was the Northanger Abbey short story by Sophia Rose…yes this one was a mystery!

So quick background copied from my sister blog:

“So for those who haven’t read it it- Catherine Morland seemed so average that no one would think she could ever be a heroine-but those people will be proven wrong. She loves to read, especially gothic stories and has an overactive imagination. She is gifted with a trip to Bath and ends up in her own romance suspense novel! A love triangle, an overbearing father, a mysterious death, a foreboding Abbey, and more! I love it and you all should read it if you haven’t!”

Plot Synopsis:

So at the end of Northanger Abbey, Catherine was sent home embarrassed-then Mr. Tilney came and professed his love, and all was happy. Right?

She has returned home to find her brother, James Morland, has disappeared.

He just disappeared.

After his fiancé Isabella threw James over, trying to snare a bigger fish, he became despondent. They have tried to contact him numerous times, but there are no answers to them. Even their aunt who resides in Oxford has had one of her grooms deliver a letter but nothing.

Catherine takes a moment to work out a plan and convinces her parents to let her go to Oxford and try a personal visit. Catherine prepares for the trip and that there is a stranger in the village asking questions about her brother.

Catherine gets there and it appears her fears were not unfounded. The porter has not seen James, but his mail has disappeared and some of things are gone with no one knowing where he has gone.

Hmmm…

Catherine grows more and more worried-nothing heard from James-nothing from her fiancé Mr. Tilney. What is going on with this men?

Hmmm…?

Catherine once again finds herself in a plot she’s only ever read about-dastardly plans, missing brother, missing fiancé, a viscount, goons after her-straight out of an adventure story. Will she be able to stop this plotter? Will she find her brother? What’s wrong with her fiancé?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was a great mystery. It was funny, suspenseful, and had a great resolution.

To read the full Rational Creatures review check out my sister blog

For more Jane Austen mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more short stories, go to The Idol House of Astarte

For more disappearances, go to Lowcountry Boneyard

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to Matcha Latte (Hot or Cold)

The Idol House of Astarte

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So last month I reviewed the first of The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“The Idol House of Astarte” from The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Next to share a mystery is Dr. Pender:

Dr. Pender is the reverend and says he only has one story to share. The story takes place on the edges of Dartmoor, the property was beautiful but had been on the market a very long time.

Hmm…

It was eventually purchased by Sir Richard Haydon, an old friend of Dr. Pender. It had been years since they had seen each other, but they reconnected and he invited Dr. Pender down to Silent Grove, as his recently purchased property was now named.

At the party was Richard, his cousin Elliot Hayden, Lady Mannerling, her daughter Violet Mannerling, Captain Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Symonds, and a beautiful, society woman Miss Diana Ashley.

Richard was extremely attracted to Diana, and Dr. Pender saw that this whole party was a setup-a setup to bring her down and woo her.

The house was solid Devonshire granite on the moor with weatherbeaten Tors. There were also relics of the Stone Age which Richard likes as his hobby was antiquarian matters.

The moors.

They are walking around the grounds, but Dr. Pender doesn’t like it. Something feels off.

Richard notices it and tells him the grounds used to be the Grove of Astarte-otherwise known as Ishtar or Ashtoreth. In the middle of a clearing is a stone summer house, which Haydon calls The Idol House of Astarte-The Goddess of the Moon.

Diana wants to have a wild orgy party, out in the moonlight in the sacred grove. To dress up fancy and celebrate. Nobody else likes it, but Diana.

That night they decide to dress up in Fancy Dress, and all dress up. Rev. Pender is a monk, Richard a Phoenician sailor, his cousin Elliot a Brigand Chief, Lady Mannerling a hospice nurse, her daughter Violet Mannerling a Circassian slave, Captain Rogers and Mrs. Rogers were Neolithic hut dwellers, Dr. Symonds a chef, and Miss Diana the “unknown”

After dinner they all go outside. After a while they realize that Diana is missing.

Violet Mannerling says that she saw her go to the idol house, so they head over there. When they get there they spot her in gauze with two crescent moons coming out of her hair.

I am the priestess of Astarte,’ she [Diana] crooned. ‘Beware how you approach me, for I hold death in my hand.”

Richard goes up to her, he tells her she is beautiful but wants her to stop.

“Stop,’ she [Diana] cried. ‘One step nearer and I will smite you with the magic of Astarte.”

Richard laughed and went closer, when something strange happened. He stumbled and fell. And he did not rise.

Okay, stop playing.

On closer examination, by Elliot, it appears Richard is dead! Afterwards, Elliot looks at his hands-weird.

They examine Richard, and it appears he was stabbed by a long thin dagger, but they could not find one. Diana faints, believing she is at fault, and all go back to the house.

Elliot decides to go back to the grove. The police come and at seven o’clock, they realize Elliot never returned. They then find him stabbed!

When questioned, Elliot says that he was at the Idol House and felt something was watching him. He then felt a cold wind, and tuned around and saw a small figure of the goddess. The figure seemed to grow larger and larger-then he blacked out.

Is someone trying to kill the Haydon? Or is it supernatural?

Thoughts After Reading:

This one wasn’t my favorite out of the series, but it was still very well written. I kind of knew the ending but I wasn’t sure how it was done.

Hmm…

For more on The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more Miss Marple books, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip

The Tuesday Club Murders

The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

So I was debating whether to post this on Sunday, Agatha Christie’s birthday, as it is a short story and I do Short Story Sunday, but the title of my copy is The Tuesday Club Murders. I have to post on Tuesday! Right?

So here we go, the first story will be posted today, while the following will be on Sundays as they usually are.

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marples home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Or Murder Club!

Sir Henry starts them off:

There are three people who sit down to a dinner of tinned lobster. Later that night all fall ill, two recovered and one died.

Mr. Jones was a traveller and a good looking man of fifty. He is married to Mrs. Jones who was average looking and forty-five. Mrs. Jones’ companion is Miss Clark, a sixty year-old stout woman.

Now no one would have thought anything of this except that shortly before the incident, Mr. Jones stayed at a hotel and wrote some mail. One of the maids had been reading tons of mystery novels and decided to go over the blotting paper and see what was written and finds part of a note:

Entirely dependent on my wife…when she is dead I will…hundreds and thousands…

That started the wheel, and they then discovered that he was very friendly with the doctor’s daughter.

Hmm…

They did an autopsy and then discovered she died of arsenic poisoning.

So they started digging-Mr. Jones was a ladies’ man, who’s wife had the money, but he only inherited $8000-not hudreds and thousands.

Dinner that night had been tinned lobster, salad, trifle, bread, and cheese. Nothing of the dinner remained so there was nothing for them to test.

They questioned the young maid, Gladys Linch, who was terribly upset-but had no helpful information.

All three ate the same food, and it couldn’t be Mr. Jones who did the poisoning as he came right when the food was being served.

Miss Clark was looked at but there was no motive-she wasn’t having an affair with Mr. Jones, and with Miss Jones dead she had to find a new job-not easy for a woman of her age.

Mrs. Jones did ask her husband to make her some corn-flour after dinner. However, she didn’t eat it. She didn’t care for it, and her companion was banting (dieting), and starving and ate it.

All guess and are wrong, except for Miss Marple. Who did it and how did she figure it out?

(I will post the end upside down on the bottom for those interested.)

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved this! Although there was no hope of me ever getting it as I’m an American. I only got it this time because I discussed this item and them with my British boss. I know I’ve read this story a hundreds and thousands of times and I just finally get it!

For more Miss Marple, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip

For more poisonings, go to A Much Expected Murder

And in other news happy 10 years to:

Borrowed from my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

Answer:

 

 

 

The Man with the Twisted Lip

July we always celebrate Sherlock Holmes as A Study in Scarlet was published July of 1888, Happy anniversary to our favorite detective!

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 “The Man With the Twisted Lip” from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thoughts Before Reviewing:

I grew up reading the short stories or cases of Sherlock Holmes, and I think my favorite collection growing up was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It just has so many good and memorable tales.

 

This particular story  is one of my favorites and I am glad to share it with you all.

A wife is worried for her missing husband and calls upon Sherlock Holmes to help her.

She was walking down the street when her husband was at work and looked up and saw him in the window above an opium den! She rushes up there as quick as she can but no husband is to be found, only a disgusting, dirty man.

She calls the police and as they investigate-discovering his clothes in the river, but no body or blood. They believe the man to have killed her husband but they can’t figure out what happened.

Sherlock is rather puzzled and looks into the history of the man, but there is little to be found. He moved there and makes good money is all that they know.

Hmm…

Sherlock believes the husband has been killed, but then a letter turns up in his handwriting with his signet ring. Sherlock is stuck until he goes to the bathroom and solves it by looking at a bar of soap.

Yep, soap.

Told you it was a good one!

Him

He goes to the jail where they are holding the man and force him to clean up, revealing that he is the missing husband.

It turned out he was a reporter and went undercover to write a story about beggars. He was a great actor and did so well at doing nothing, making way more money than being the reporter.

He decided to continue, thinking he had every last detail planned out, but was surprised by his wife; reacting quickly and not thinking of his actions. Sherlock makes him stop the begging as it is against the law, and the case is solved.

I just love how he solves it with soap. SOAP! Amazing!

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Boscombe Valley Mystery

For more by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, go to A Case of Identity

For more missing husbands, go to He’s Gone

For more short stories, go to The Tell-Tale Purr

The Tell-Tale Purr

“The Tell-Tale Purr” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

If you haven’t figured it out this is a play on the famous short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe. It really is ingenious, even borrowing lines from the original story but infusing it with a few other things…namely cats.

Our narrator is someone who likes having money and hates almost everything and everybody. One person he especially dislikes is his grandma who he has to be nice to as she has a ton of money and he stands to inherit, just as long as he stays sucking up to her.

One day at a dinner party he gets a most marvelous idea of how to bump his grandma off without being suspected of murder. She has a weak heart and is absolutely terrified of cats. Scared to death of them, they being the perfect thing to end her. He could use their cries to scare her into a heart attack, but how?

Hmmm…?

The elevator! Grandma just has one installed, and on a stormy night when power cuts out she could be trapped in there, him playing recordings of cats which should induce a heart attack.

So the plan is put into action, mean yowling cats are caught and recorded until he has a horrifying symphony.

Dinner comes when such weather is horrible. He leaves as normal and returns in secret-turning off the power, trapping grandma, and playing his merciless tune to terrify her.

But things do not turn out as expected.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Thoughts After Reading:

Oh, such an amazing read. So good and such a great twist of an ending. AMAZING!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Haven’t We Met Before?

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more cat-centered mysteries, go to Crazy, VA

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

Haven’t We Met Before?

“Haven’t We Met Before” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

William Koenig was arrested for attempted murder of a young woman named Emily Winters. He chose her because in past life she was Kate Fallow and wanted to marry his past self Simon Guinness. When Koenig/Guinness refused she ended up murdering her husband, framing Koenig/Guinness and had him hanged.

Y’all know what that mans. Someone is going to end up DEAD!

Koenig tried to get his revenge but was foiled. Now he resides at the Haviland Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He is visited by Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Jack Carroll. Carroll believes that he is responsible for a string of unsolved murders and is trying to get him to confess.

Carroll os also dating Emily and is doubly interested in keeping Koenig behind bars.

Koenig is just baiting the two. He speaks to Carroll and the psychiatrists, but inside has plotted a way to get out and get Emily.

Koenig has murdered before. He won’t admit it to Carroll, he’s a very smart man, but he is responsible for the unsolved murders.

  • Fire in Rosedale that killed an elderly woman eight years ago? In Koenig’s eyes she was a witch from Salem who had him killed.
  • Murder of a cashier at the York Cinema in Mamaroneck five years ago? In Koenig’s eyes he was a 17th century pirate who set him adrift in 1603
  • Jeffrey Lane a real estate broker in Rye? In Koenig’s eyes his younger brother in Glasgow in 1790 who murdered him for the estate.

The time ends and Carroll concentrates on Emily. Emily lives in White Plains, housesitting and waitressing-putting her way through college. She actually had herself regressed and saw that she was Eliza Jackson Southern Belle during the Civil War. Carroll is deeply in love with her, but understands she’s busy and needs her space at times. He calls her, but doesn’t see her as she has a long day and wants to head home.

That night Koenig breaks out-strangles the guard, escapes in the orderly’s outfit, and is out a half hour before they even realize he is gone.

This time he gets to Emily before she can press the panic button to call the police. This time he will have her.

It is the end of the line, or is it? Eliza Jackson just might make an appearance-and she’s one tough Southerner.

Hmm…

Thoughts after Reading:

Was good but I’m not really into past lives mysteries. However, Clark always knows how to tell a tale and does it well.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more stories from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

The Man Next Door

“The Man Next Door” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Mr. Mensch just finished with one of his “guests” and is looking for a new “visitor” to join him. Mr. Mensch inherited millions from his penny-pinching, miserly father. He has moved around the country and had many “visitors” stay with him in his basement or secret rooms.

This is not good

He’s been looking at his neighbor Bree Matthews, watching her. He knows that choosing her would be dangerous, police would come-but he can’t get her out of his head. She had been remodeling her townhouse next door and had a leak destroy everything. She came over enraged and yelling that the contractor told her it was his fault-he had a leak pouring onto her roof. Mensch just told her calmly to get another contractor take a look-its not his fault. While he was calm on the inside, a fire was growing inside him. He wanted her.

The next day, Bree came to apologize and admit she was wrong. She had another contractor view and it turns out the original contractor cut a lot of corners. Mensch accepted her apology and couldn’t deny it. She was to be his next visitor.

That night he went to work, cutting out the stone in the basement that connects the two houses, his plan to get in and get Bree.

Bree has been having a bad weekend. She had her beautiful home decorated and destroyed by shoddy work. She is taking the contractor to court, which caused a fight and break up with her boyfriend Kevin Carter, as he felt she should just accept the settlement. She had to spend their planned Friday night alone, leave the office early Saturday because she has a cold, and spent all Sunday in bed miserable. Now she is heading to court and is woken early because of a strange grinding noise from next door. Ugh!

She doesn’t know how much worse her life is about to get as that noise marks Mensch’s entrance. He breaks in, drugs her up-makes it look as if she was abducted on her way home Friday night, and imprisons her in her basement. Will she make it out okay, or face the same fate as his previous’ visitors?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was so engrossing that I read faster and faster until I reached the conclusion. I had to know if she survived or ended up dead in the river.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

For more books with kidnapping, go to The Secret Adversary

For more serial killers, go to The House on Foster Hill

A Much Expected Murder

“A Much Expected Murder” by Gail Ingram, from Tales of Fatima

Basil Rathbone, yes the Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in many movies, is getting ready after a performance when he and his secretary Lavender are warned by a brute of a man with a gun to “leave Mrs. Dawson’s case alone”.

As Rathbone is not involved with any case, he agrees. After the man leaves he receives a phone call from a Mrs. Dawson in need of help.

Hmm…

Rathbone meets with the woman who asks for his assistance as her husband has something bothering him and she can’t tell what it is. Rathbone goes to speak to the man, and discovers that he is convinced that his wife is murdering him. She had a young chemist help her with a poison that was undetectable and killed her first husband, and now she is killing him. But how does he know she murdered her first husband? Why he was the chemist.

The brute returns and attacks Rathbone for reneging his promise. Rathbone then goes to see his detective friend and he discovers that Mrs. Dawsonn never had a first husband. Then what is going on?

Wen they return to the house they discover they are too late, Mr. Dawson is dead.

Hmm…

And then to complicate things, the brute is there at the house! He is the doctor and an old friend of Mrs. Dawson, in fact her old lover.

He tells Rathbbone that Mr. Dawson told him his suspicions about poison and they are pretending he is dead to catch the killer. They made up a story of the first husband as to distract Rathbone. As they are in the house they stumble upon Mr. Dawson. They try to talk to him but he is dead-throat cut.

WHAT!

They call the police and try to figure out who did the deed? Mrs. Dawson for the money? The Doctor for Mrs. Dawson? Mr. Dawson’s crazy sister who constantly speaks of death?

Thoughts After Reading:

Great story. Loved it! And Basil Rathbone amazing!!!

For more short stories, go to The Old Plantation

For more on a husband’s murder, go to Death by Honeymoon

The Old Plantation

“The Old Plantation” by Unknown from Tales From the Midnight Hour edited by J.D. Stamper

Jonas Ellerby turned the car into the driveway of the old plantation. He’s never seen one before except in movies.

Weird

The house was completely crazy-rooms sagging at an angle, the color a dull rotten gray, a dying house. Jonas’ company was planning on destroying it and selling the land.

This place is a mess!

The house had a strange reputation, but Jonas had decided to spend the evening in the house.

He looks through the house and spots a small bedroom, one that didn’t look gross or smell. Jonas grabs his luggage from the car and sets up in the room. There is a candle next the bed, good thing as the house has no electricity.

He lights the candle and reads the book The Old Plantation. 

The story is about a young man, a Northerner, who comes to the South on business. One night, he drives his car up to an old Southern plantation. He decides to spend the night in the old house, even though he is all alone there…

Jonas is freaked out! but also curious, maybe just a little bit more:

In the story, the young man has just turned in for the night, after having gone out on the veranda for awhile. His face is still swollen from a mosquito bite he has gotten there. He scratches the bite.

Jonas realizes he is scratching his bite! He keeps reading:

The young man in the story sees a book by his bed stand. The title of the book is The Old Plantation. He picks it up and begins to read. As he reads the first chapter, his face takes on a look of fear. Then, slowly, a look of understanding comes over his face.

What is it? What does he understand?

Jonas keeps reading:

The young man continues to read The Old Plantation. The more he reads, the more frightened he becomes. Finally, he finishes the book. Then the young man lays the book back down on the nightstand. He knows there is nothing he can do. Nothing he can do…but wait…

Eagerly, Jonas turns the page but it is blank!

WHAT!

The rest of the book is blank!

Jonas puts the book away. Then he hears a car coming up. A person opening the door and sees…

Himself.

Thoughts After Reading:

A great short story.

For more Tales From the Midnight Hour, go to The Jigsaw Puzzle

For more short stories, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more land developers, go to Snagged

 

Voices in the Coalbin

“Voices in the Coalbin” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

This was a great one.

Mike and Laurie met, married, and life was good. Mike a junior partner in his father’s law firm and Laurie a well-known soprano opera singer. They had a nice home which they were decorating.

But then that all changed. Every night she has the same nightmare, these people trying to take her and make her sing with them. She is afraid of everything and everywhere. She was raised by a hypochondriac, abusive grandmother who tried to have her fear everything. Laurie tried to break it, but it looks as of it has a firm grip on her.

Oh no!

Her therapist told Mike that it would be nice to go away somewhere. So he decided that they should go to his grandparents cabin in Milwaukee. Mike has all these great memories from his childhood but when they get there is it all gloomy and dark. It turns out there is a cold storm overhead.

They start looking through the house trying to sort what they might want from the cabin before it sells. As they search through the closets, Mike finds an old Victrola. He winds it up and starts playing Chinatown. A song that Laurie remembers from childhood.

Laurie freaks out when she hears it

And it turns out that her grandmother used to play that sing and she told her the voices were trapped in the coalbin. Laurie never went in the basement and coalbin ever again, and she still hasn’t since.

The two go down to the coalbin, Laurie feeling strong. And then the two go to bed.

The next morning Mike wakes up happy, and sees that Laurie is gone. He searches everywhere but the last trace was Laurie’s footsteps in the basement.

They find her body, she drowned in the river. But when they do the autopsy they find coal dust.

What?!

And later, when Mike is going through the house again-he listens to the Victrola-and hears Laurie’s voice on the record.

WHAT!

Great story, great ending.

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go toDefinitely, A Crime of Passion

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Stowaway

For more short stories, go to Zero Hour

Zero Hour

“Zero Hour” from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

It’s just a normal day for the Morris family. Mrs. Morris is taking care of the home and little Mink is playing with her friends. Except today Mink is grabbing all kinds of things and running around with her friends more excited than usual playing Invasion.

While they are playing, Mrs. Morris notices that the kids won’t let a 12 year old play with them as he is too old.

Hmm…

She hears how serious the kids are with Mink demanding and ordering about, organizing like a general. She runs out and about everywhere, as it is a “matter of life and death.”

Oh kids

They have to hurry as Drill needs them to finish the Invasion. Drill is from outer space and needs help to come to their dimension. Drill and his compatriots have been trying to invade Earth for years and couldn’t make it. Then they decided to use kids under nine and their imagination. They promise the kids they can get and do whatever they want when they arrive.

“Drill says I won’t have to take baths,’ said Mink.

‘Oh, he does, does he?’

‘He told all the kids that. No more baths. And we can stay up till ten o’clock and go to two televisor shows on Saturday ‘stead of one!’

‘Well, Mr. Drill better mind his p’s and q’s. I’ll call up his mother and —‘

Mink went to the door. ‘We’re having trouble with guys like Pete Britz and Dale Jerrick. They’re growing up. They make fun. They’re worse than parents. They just won’t believe in Drill. They’re so snooty, ‘cause they’re growing up. You’d think they’d know better. They were little only a coupla years ago. I hate them worst. We’ll kill them first.’

‘Your father and I last?’

‘Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why? ‘Cause you don’t believe in Martians! They’re going to let us run the world. Well, not just us, but the kids over in the next block, too. I might be queen.’ She opened the door.

Mrs. Morris calls her friend in New York and finds out that the kids there are playing the same thing. It seems that this game and “Drill” have spread all over the nation.

The day continues and Mink tells her mom it will be soon, Drill is stuck halfway but they are working on it. Five o’clock is zero hour. Mr. Morris returns home from work and Mrs. Morris is struck with how quiet the street is. What are the children up to?

Then an explosion happens and all Mrs. Morris’ fears explode with it. Sh grabs her husband and runs up to the attic hoping to hide out there and escape that night. Her husband thinks she is crazy, but Mrs. Morris doesn’t care.

Footsteps come into the house:

Heavy feet. Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty of them. Fifty persons crowding into the house. 295 The humming. The giggling of the children. ‘This way!’ cried Mink, below.

‘Who’s downstairs?’ roared Henry. ‘Who’s there!’

‘Hush. Oh, nononononono!’ said his wife weakly, holding him. ‘Please, be quiet. They might go away.’

‘Mom?’ called Mink. ‘Dad?’ A pause. ‘Where are you?’ Heavy footsteps, heavy, heavy, very heavy footsteps, came up the stairs. Mink leading them.

‘Mom?’ A hesitation. ‘Dad?’ A waiting, a silence.

Humming. Footsteps toward the attic. Mink’s first.

They trembled together in silence in the attic, Mr. and Mrs. Morris. For some reason the electric humming, the queer cold light suddenly visible under the door crack, the strange odor and the alien sound of eagerness in Mink’s voice finally got through to Henry Morris too. He stood, shivering, in the dark silence, his wife beside him.

‘Mom! Dad!’

Footsteps. A little humming sound. The attic-lock melted. The door opened. Mink peered inside, tall blue shadows behind her.

‘Peekaboo,’ said Mink.”

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Marionettes, Inc.

For more from The Illustrated Man, go to The Veldt

For more aliens, go to The Andromeda Strain

For more short stories, go to Stowaway

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Stowaway

“Stowaway” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Stewardess Carol is heartbroken over her breakup with Tom, the pilot. Not only does she have to deal with her emotional baggage, but remains by his side through all her hurt and pain as he flies the plane she is assigned to.

This flight from Danube to Frankfurt has its share of troubles as her fellow purser/flight attendant is sick so Carol has to take care of everyone on her own. A member of the underground resistance group has fled captivity, and they think he might be stowing away on the plane.

All the passengers and  workers are annoyed as the government police are keeping them by searching the plane.

That’s it?

Carol goes in the back to deal with her emotional thoughts when she spots it. A person hiding.

It’s the fugitive. Carol makes a snap second decision that changes everything, she decides to help hide him.

But then the police commissioner stays on the flight. Now Carol has two hours to Frankfurt, a fugitive, the police commissioner, and no place to hide him.

It was really good. The tension was great and well written.

For more by Mary Higgins Clark, go to Definitely, A Crime of Passion

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more short stories, go to The Jigsaw Puzzle

For more stowaways, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

The Jigsaw Puzzle

“The Jigsaw Puzzle” by Unknown from Tales From the Midnight Hour edited by J.D. Stamper

Lisa has been searching for something to take home to do, but has found nothing. Then she spots a jigsaw puzzle box. It says 500 pieces and that it is The Strangest Jigsaw Puzzle in the World. Something about that calls to Lisa and she buys it.

Hmm…

Mr. Tuborg, the owner, doesn’t remember ever buying it-and sells it to her.

She stops to buy dinner and heads off for home. As soon as she gets to her room she starts making the puzzle and notices some similar things in the puzzle to her room.

In fact, the more Lisa puts the puzzle together the more it looks exactly like her room. Even she is in it.

The woman in the puzzle is terrified! Scared! Horrified!

Soon there is only one piece missing. Lisa doesn’t want to finish it, but can’t help herself. It’s just a puzzle right?

When she finishes the puzzle she sees a terrifying creature behind the girl in the puzzle. Then she turns around and screams because there it is!

Thoughts After Reading:

A great spooky story.

For more short stories from The Midnight Hour, go to The Black Velvet Ribbon

For more short stories, go to Definitely, A Crime of Passion