Monday, December 7, 2009

The Secret of Lucifer's Island, 1967 (?) by Miriam Lynch

This surprising stinker was so bad I nearly forgot I'd begun reading it months ago. Came to mind last evening. Miriam Lynch bombed this time. Ironically another novel of hers published around the same year -- "The Bells of Widow's Bay" -- was a 5 out of 5 stars imo; one of the best Gothics I've yet read.

This story falls flat from the onset. I managed to get to page 60 before putting it away. The story opens with a young (though adult) heroine reluctantly accompanying her flamboyant ex-Vaudeville aunt to visit other retired show-business "friends" on a remote island. Our heroine is exhausted after a long bus ride with her self-centered auntie, and now it's twilight and they're standing on a dock waiting for their boat ride which shows no indication of arriving. Aunt sends heroine to the local rowdy dive (beautiful young virgin to ruffian drunkards; what sort of an aunt is she?) to try and hire a boat. Heroine succeeds. In the darkness they're rudely driven across frightening choppy waters by a coarse and hostile man who curtly informs them he's NOT taking their bags to the island mansion; once they arrive at that dock, they're on their own. Aunt moans and frets; she and heroine struggle up craggy hills and through dense undergrowth and trees, through pitch-black darkness...groping their way to the mansion. When they finally arrive at the mansion (sans sprains, concussions, fractures) somehow they're both magically able to see in the dark. And it seems the mansion is desserted. But no, it's not -- a lady answers the door, who is immediately hostile and refuses to permit them entry. The heroine is nearly (understandably) ballistic by this point; turns out her dear old aunt had neglected to inform heroine she'd received no reply to a query to come visiting and took it upon herself to "party crash" the place. Her goal? To seduce and marry the wealthy retired actor who owns the island.

Everyone at the mansion are cold and UNwelcoming of their "guests."

Next we find the heroine escorted to a dingy, poorly furnished room. She learns, to her continued delight, that auntie's room is clear across the mansion. Somehow she manages to trace aunt and ex-lady friend (in a hugely sprawling and dimly lit strange mansion??); they're arguing. Heroine, not wanting to be discovered eavesdropping, hurries back to her room -- but not before she sees a ghost.

At this point I stopped reading on the basis of "too improbable" and just plain silly. Nice cover art though; got it from Ebay I think.

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