Master criminals. Dead bats as calling cards. A young couple in distress. The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart has it all and then some.
Courtleigh Fleming has recently passed away, shortly before his bank closes its doors after money and a cashier go missing. Mr. Fleming’s nephew rents out his uncle’s country house to Cornelia Van Gorder. But The Bat, a master criminal who continually defies the best detectives, is said to be in the area. After Miss Van Gorder receives several threatening, anonymous notes, she is sure the Bat is closing in. But Cornelia Van Gorder isn’t one to back down, and with her maid Lizzie, her niece Dale, the Japanese butler Billy and the various other guests in the house, she is determined to uncover the Bat’s true identity and the connection to the Fleming estate.
A novel based on a play (The Bat) based on a novel (The Circular Staircase), The Bat is a perfectly fun romp. As Ryan says in his great review over at Wordsmithsonia, there is definitely a bit of Noises Off or Arsenic and Old Lace hilarity in this mystery, as mysteriously locked and unlocked doors as well as inconvenient power outages assist the constant confusion among characters. Though I did figure out the villain prior to the last pages, I thought the denouement ingeniously done and thoroughly enjoyed this period novel – complete with gems from Cornelia Van Gorder:
“Sally doesn’t remember when she was a younger generation herself…But I do – and if we didn’t have automobiles, we had buggies – and youth doesn’t change its ways just because it has cut its hair.”
“Miss Van Gorder, I confess-I’m very anxious for you,” he continued. “This letter is ominous. Have you any enemies?”
“Don’t insult me! Of course I have. Enemies are an indication of character.”
Add this to your Goodreads shelf.