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The Black House (Rue Morgue Vintage Mysteries) Paperback – June 19, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

With her sister Gwenyth, the author of 21 darkly comic mysteries published between 1938 and 1953.
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Product Details

  • Series: Rue Morgue Vintage Mysteries
  • Paperback: 155 pages
  • Publisher: Rue Morgue Press (June 19, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0915230682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0915230686
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 9, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
But worse than that, there's a dead man in the the house, not to mention a corpse outside in the snow.

The house is entirely snowbound. And it's full of people crashing on Henry Debbon for various reasons. Some are from the law office where Henry works, and one is the beautiful redheaded stepdaughter of Henry's boss. There's also a detective in search of an escaped jailbird and his hidden stash of ill-gotten money.

It's a madhouse. A body disappears. Terrible arguments break out over who cooks and who washes up. There's general outrage that Henry has no liquor, only wine. Food disappears mysteriously. Both food and fuel are running low. Where will it all end? The plot is as wacky as any Little sisters mystery. And as usual, there's a lot of creeping around in dark rooms and hallways when everyone's supposed to be in bed. Henry's ghostly aunt is pretty active too.

I enjoyed the book, but I found the put-down humor (the constant exchange of insults) not as agreeable as the usual brand of wit from the Little sisters. And the romantic element (there's always a romantic element in these mysteries) feels like a bit of an afterthought. The Black House was first published in 1950. I missed the forties-style repartee of earlier books. Still, I'm glad I read this. There's no one quite like the Little sisters, and I wouldn't want to miss any of their books.

The brief introduction is very good and has interesting things to say about the shift of tone and viewpoint from early to later books.
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Format: Paperback
Constance and Gwenyth Little were born in Australia in 1899 and 1903. They lived most of their lives in East Orange, New Jersey and published twenty-one mysteries. Their mysteries could be classified as "cozies," as the increasingly gruesome murders generally took place off stage. Their characters were always comedic, and lots of old mansions; boarding homes; hotels; hospitals and the like providing creepy scenery for their whodunits. In their early works heroines were strong women who took to sleuthing to find the real murderer. The Littles had amazing range, considering they wrote most of their mysteries in bed.

THE BLACK HOUSE is told from a male point-of-view, probably because after World War II men emerged as the dominant breed in America. Henry Debbon is the hero, a lawyer going in for a typical day of work. Because he set his alarm incorrectly, he is an hour early. Immediately he senses that something is out of whack in the office when he meets a total stranger waiting in his boss's office. His boss acts downright crazy:

"Claude, chewing on his customary cigar, looked him over. 'I suppose you were so bleary-eyed this morning that you read your watch wrong.' This was so astutely the truth that Henry was more bitterly offended than if he had merely come down early to get some work done.

He said, with remote and frigid courtesy, 'There is a man waiting for you in Your office.'

Claude glanced at the closed door of his office. 'Nonsense, it's too early. You're not awake yet. Have you had coffee?'"

Naturally, the real action takes place at an old mansion owned by Henry's aunt, (the black house) when people in the office start disappearing.
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Format: Paperback
As always, the Little sisters' writing causes one to reminisce about the madcap comedies of the thirties. The dialogue is peppered with wry and subtle innuendos. The plot is full of complex twists and turns. The characters are charming, yet not at all hampered by modern angst. Delightful
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Format: Paperback
Thank you, thank you, Rue Morgue Press, for these absolutely delightful Little Sisters' mysteries! They are ingenious, entertaining, and just plain funny with strange characters, Frank Capra dialogue, and the most creative plotlines ever!

I'm a librarian and order each reprint as it is published for our collection. I consider it my aim to introduce all my patrons to the Little mysteries!
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I am a fan of the Little's books. While they don't come up to a Rollin's book, they do spin a fun read in all they
produced.
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