Do Not Disturb (1943) by Helen McCloy

Do Not Disturb by Helen McCloy

7 Stars (7/10 stars)

The printed letters are polite: Please Do Not Disturb. But what they really mean is: danger! Keep out! You’ve seen that sign on a door in a factory or a railroad station, haven’t you? And you didn’t rush to open that door, did you? Then why open this?”

Edith Talbot doesn’t remember who recommended the Majestic Hotel to her. All she knows is that after being turned away from dozens of hotels due to the wartime housing shortage, she is willing to sleep just about anywhere. Taking pity on Edith’s obvious exhaustion, the clerk at the Majestic lets her have the last room in the house, the one he isn’t supposed to rent.

The sign on the room next door reads “Do Not Disturb.” But Edith is disturbed, terribly so, by the screams and groans she hears from that room. By knocking on the door of room 1404, Edith is taking the first step of a journey through the dark heart of the American homefront. Continue reading “Do Not Disturb (1943) by Helen McCloy”

Mr. Splitfoot (1968) by Helen McCloy

Mr Splitfoot by Helen McCloy

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“That room has been locked up for about fifty years.”

“But why?”

“Oh, the usual sort of reason. Everyone who has ever slept in that room has been found dead in the morning.”

Fifteen-year-old Lucinda Swayne has a plan to scare her father and stepmother. Just a little, just enough for them to know what it’s like to be under someone else’s power—maybe even make them believe in Mr. Splitfoot, the devil himself. She and her friend Vanya are going to stage a haunting

Lucinda doesn’t know about the legends that have surrounded the old house for nearly a century. She doesn’t know about the secret hiding place. And she doesn’t know that someone is about to end up dead for real. What begins as a teenage prank soon turns fatal, and not even Dr. Basil Willing can make a deal with the devil. Continue reading “Mr. Splitfoot (1968) by Helen McCloy”

The Slayer and the Slain (1957) by Helen McCloy

The Slayer and the Slain by Helen McCloy

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“They say you never see your own face as others see it because the face you see in a mirror is more self-conscious. Just as you never hear your own voice as others hear it because its tone is distorted by your skull’s resonance. It is hard to obey the philosophic injunction: Know thyself. Perhaps a man knows less about himself than anyone else he encounters.”

He must have slipped on the ice. That’s what everyone says when Harry Vaughan wakes up flat on his back in the middle of campus, twenty minutes of his life gone. He doesn’t remember falling, but it turns out there are a lot of things he doesn’t remember well in the aftermath of the accident.

An inheritance allows Harry to give up his thankless job as a college instructor and relocate to Clearwater, Virginia, his late mother’s hometown. He hopes for a quiet life, maybe to reconnect with a lost love. Soon, however, the community is plagued by unusual events, and his peaceful retreat is growing more dangerous with each passing day. Continue reading “The Slayer and the Slain (1957) by Helen McCloy”

Through a Glass, Darkly (1950) by Helen McCloy

Book cover of Through a Glass Darkly by Helen McCloy (1950)

9 Stars (9/10 stars)

“You see a figure ahead of you, solid, three-dimensional, brightly colored. Moving and obeying all the laws of optics. Its clothing and posture is vaguely familiar. You hurry toward the figure for a closer view. It turns its head and—you are looking at yourself. Or rather a perfect mirror image of yourself only—there is no mirror. So, you know it is your double. And that frightens you, for tradition tells you that he who sees his own double is about to die…”

Atmosphere is so important in cultivating the very best kind of school, and Brereton is certainly that. If a teacher creates a disturbing environment at the school, then that teacher has to go, even in the middle of the term. So the headmistress is sure Faustina Crayle understands why she is being dismissed.

But Faustina doesn’t understand. All she knows is that she’s been an outcast ever since she arrived at the school and no one will tell her why. Her only friend, Austrian refugee Gisela von Hohenems, asks Basil Willing to investigate.

What he discovers is impossible. Can the same woman really be in two places at once? And what if one of them commits murder?

Continue reading “Through a Glass, Darkly (1950) by Helen McCloy”

Better Off Dead (1951) by Helen McCloy

Better Off Dead by Helen McCloy book cover

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“One of you four nice people tried to murder me fifteen years ago, and I want to find out which one of you it was.”

More than a decade ago, Stephen Longworth fled the small city of Yarborough, Pennsylvania. Back then he was Frank Bly, a teenage boy dazzled by his wealthy employers, especially the lady of the house, Tessie Vanbrugh. But things went very wrong for Frank. Now he’s returning to find out why.

Though now a successful author, Stephen has never forgotten what happened to him in Yarborough, and he’s never forgotten Tessie. No one in town suspects that new arrival Stephen Longworth is really Frank Bly, for one very good reason: They all believe Frank Bly was murdered fifteen years ago.

And he’s come back, to solve his own murder.

Continue reading “Better Off Dead (1951) by Helen McCloy”