Some of these novels are timeless. I can't believe this one was published in 1966. Bev, the lead character, is so modern. I mean "post-feminist modern." Actually all of the characters are (perhaps with the exception of Effie)...and while reading it couldn't help thinking the novel could have been written and set in 1990 instead.
It's a very good story. A 5 on a scale of 1 - 5.
The cover art (will scan it when I get a scanner, soon) shows a woman (waist up) with long medium blonde hair hugging herself (right hand grips her left bicep) while looking nervously over her left shoulder. Her sweater is hunter green, and the shadowing effects about her eyes and face are a very light green mixed with cream and flesh tones. In front of her are 3 flameless tapered white candles, their wax drippings now hardened and dry. Behind her is what looks like a leaning metal hat/coat tree held by a chain (weird). The lettering for "Castle Midnight" is pale yellow, and unusually styled with rounded characters.
Tom Houston, Beverly Nichols' long-time friend and secret flame, asks Bev if she'll act as hostess at Castle Midnight, which is located in an isolated region of the Sierra Mountains in California. Tom has come into an inheritance. He's flown to Europe, played the extravagantly rich bachelor...and now his money's nearly run out. But there's a method to his madness: Tom's wealthy facade was to lure a genuinely wealthy European woman into marrying him. Sibyl Morrison is "the catch" and she's due to arrive in the U.S. with her family and mini-entourage to see Tom's nonexistant penthouse, luxury mansion, etc.
Tom asks Bev to assist in hoodwinking Sibyl. He rents Castle Midnight for a month. Will Bev pose as his sister and hostess?
Bev resides in San Francisco and has just lost her job. And she loves Tom. She dislikes his principles and especially dislikes the thought of helping Tom court, woo and propose to Sibyl...but (thinking with heart instead of head) she reluctantly agrees.
Bev, Bill and Effie (a married couple who are dear friends of Tom's) drive to Castle Midnight. They take a tour of the grand old manse. Bill immediately starts to work on the grounds. Bev begins planning the care and comfort of over 1 dozen guests, and Effie discovers the kitchen.
And they also discover suits of armor from the Old World which seem to change positions, disappear then reappear. There are startling incidents of unexplained shoving which leads to nearly fatal falls. Lights unexpectedly go out, then come back on. Bev awakens one night to discover a lamp has "moved itself" from one bedside table to the opposite one. Etc.
Things are really gearing up -- and getting seriously dangerous -- when Sibyl and family/entourage arrive. Bev doesn't want Tom's elaborate (and expensive) plans ruined, but can she continue tolerating the situation? Tom quickly becomes clued into the weird and sinister goings-on at Castle Midnight...but it's too late, as Sibyl has arrived.
Lots of interesting twists and turns in the story. Good characterization, tightly told.
The cast of characters as I visualized them:
Beverly Nichols: Katharine Ross [age 25]
Tom Houston: Bill Bixby [age 25]
Bill Taber: Couldn't quite visualize him
Effie Taber: As above
Sibyl Morrison: Kiera Knightley [age 23]
Phillips: Fred Gwynn [age 52]
Richard Moyle: Louis Edmonds [age 29]
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