The Forbidden Garden (1962) by Ursula Curtiss

The Forbidden Garden by Ursula Curtiss

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“Wanted: Mature companion to older woman in North Valley. Pleasant surroundings. Cooking, no housework.”

All the neighbors are dying to know what makes Mrs. Marrable’s poplars grow so well in the desert. That’s just one of Claire Marrable’s secrets. After the death of her husband, she decides she would rather be a wealthy widow than a poor one. The only thing holding her back is money, but that’s easily remedied. Rich old ladies are expected to hire companions, and hired companions are often alone in the world with their savings. Mrs. Marrable’s had five companions now, and there are five poplar trees lined up in her garden, all in a row.

But the sixth companion is different. Has Mrs. Marrable finally met her match? Continue reading “The Forbidden Garden (1962) by Ursula Curtiss”

Uncle Paul (1959) by Celia Fremlin

Uncle Paul by Celia Fremlin

9 Stars (9/10 stars)

“It is rare for any catastrophe to seem like a catastrophe right at the very beginning. Nearly always, in its early stages, it seems more like a nuisance; just one more of those tiresome interruptions which come so provokingly just when life is going smoothly and pleasantly.”

Meg is the baby of the family, but her sisters have always relied upon her to straighten out their lives. When their seaside holiday goes awry, it’s no surprise that they summon Meg. Somehow, oldest sister Mildred has ended up renting the cottage where she honeymooned with her ex-husband Paul fifteen years ago, when she turned him in to police for murder. Now she’s convinced that she hears his footsteps outside at night, but that couldn’t possibly be true…could it? Continue reading “Uncle Paul (1959) by Celia Fremlin”

Murder with Southern Hospitality (1942) by Leslie Ford

Murder with Southern Hospitality by Leslie Ford

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“I was frightened, all of a sudden. I could feel a pair of eyes raised in the dark, watching me. It was in my imagination, I suppose, because scientists say there’s no such thing as thought transference, but I had the creepy and rather terrifying feeling that there was something sinister there, and that those eyes I couldn’t see, fastened on me, were narrowed and sharply malevolent.”

Miss Letty Drayton left her home in Natchez, Mississippi, decades ago. She never planned to return at all, let alone bring a gaggle of garden-club ladies with her. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened, due to the club president’s unshakable desire to view the famous gardens of Natchez. Miss Letty never could stand up for herself.

When Louise Gould comes to stay at the Drayton mansion, she winds up with more questions than answers about her friend’s past. Why is Letty living an impoverished life in Maryland when she clearly comes from wealth? What is the source of the bad blood between the Draytons and their next-door neighbors, the Heywoods? And is that shadowy figure in the night a ghost, or a more human danger? Continue reading “Murder with Southern Hospitality (1942) by Leslie Ford”

Bunny Lake Is Missing (1957) by Evelyn Piper

Bunny Lake Is Missing by Evelyn Piper

3 Stars(3/10 stars)

“I must be dreaming, Blanche thought, as they walked toward her apartment. What could be more dreamlike than this walk down the street with a tall policeman? And, as in dreams, the faces you passed, all strangers, all strange, turned indifferently toward you and then indifferently away, and the policeman didn’t speak again after he had asked where she lived, and she didn’t speak, either, because what was the point in a dream when salvation only lay in waking up?”

Today is three-year-old Bunny Lake’s first day of preschool. But when her mother Blanche comes to pick her up that evening, Bunny isn’t there. In fact, no one at the school even remembers seeing her.

It’s a mother’s worst nightmare, but Blanche’s ordeal is just beginning. Not only are the police unable to locate Bunny, they are starting to question whether she ever really existed. Even the reader starts to wonder, as Blanche embarks upon a desperate search for her child. Continue reading “Bunny Lake Is Missing (1957) by Evelyn Piper”

Wings of Fear (1945) by Mignon G. Eberhart

Wings of Fear by Mignon G Eberhart

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“Murder had followed her; it had reached out toward her from the flying black shadows of the night. There was no reason, no motive, but the sheer fact of it was inescapable.”

It may look like Monica Blane is dancing at the Stork Club. In reality, she’s a million miles away—five years away, to be exact. That’s when the outbreak of war separated her from her friend Linda, and from John Basevi, the man she loved. Just as Monica begins to wonder if it is time to move on with her life, she receives an unexpected message from Linda. If Linda is still alive, then perhaps so is John.

The evening ends with a nightmarish discovery: a dead man in her apartment. She is soon on board a midnight plane to Mexico City, on her way to John with $10,000 cash tucked in her girdle. But what will Monica find when she arrives? Continue reading “Wings of Fear (1945) by Mignon G. Eberhart”

The Face of the Tiger (1958) by Ursula Curtiss

The Face of the Tiger by Ursula Curtiss

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“It isn’t over with,” Lou said flatly. “People remember kidnappings and everybody connected with them long after they forget other things. I’ve found that out.”

Summer is in full swing at the Coastline Club, and Lou Fabian couldn’t be happier with her job there. No one at the club could possibly associate the new employee with Louise Royce, who was mixed up in that scandalous kidnapping case last year. Until one day the phone rings. “I know who you are, Miss Fabian.

Is it just a prank call, or something darker? Lou gets her answer when a woman is killed in the woods behind her cabin. Although she is drawn to one of the male guests, she’s not sure if he can be trusted. Lou must overcome her past trauma if she hopes to save herself and find the killer who is hiding in plain sight. Continue reading “The Face of the Tiger (1958) by Ursula Curtiss”

Go, Lovely Rose (1954) by Jean Potts

Go Lovely Rose by Jean Potts

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“Aren’t we ever going to get rid of Mrs. Henshaw? Hasn’t she done enough to Hartley and me without this. She might at least have the decency to die a natural death. But no. She’s got to get herself murdered […] Nothing can stop people like Mrs. Henshaw. I ought to know. I grew up under her thumb.”

Since they were children, Rachel and Hartley Buckmaster have been terrified of the family housekeeper, Rose Henshaw. They can’t even pretend to be sorry when she’s found dead at the bottom of the cellar stairs. But it turns out that Rose may have had a little help falling down those stairs. When her brother Hartley becomes the prime suspect, Rachel must probe the town’s deepest secrets to learn why so many people were so afraid of Rose. Continue reading “Go, Lovely Rose (1954) by Jean Potts”