Saturday, August 8, 2015

Mistress of Snarling Death (Paul Chadwick, ACE MYSTERY, July 1936)

Great title, a bit dull of a story though - at least I thought so, and had to re-read the story to remember what was going on.  Oh well; for less then a buck for 25 stories, they're not all going to be gripping reads -- there has to be some filler here somewhere.

Stephen Demerest is summoned to the home of an old family friend, Halliday, with cryptic instructions to pose as a radio repairman and be ready to act when "the signal" is given.  For this Halliday provides him with a check for $500 as compensation.

On his way there, his car bogs down in a muddy road and while walking, he encounters a strangely-dressed, silent woman accompanied by a half-dozen gigantic, sinister hounds.  When she ignores him, Demerest resolves to follow her anyways - wherever she's going, there must be civilization.  Turns out, she's heading to the Halliday house as well.

Demerest is greeted by the ugliest servants he's ever seen, every last one of them variously crippled or deformed, and shown up to see Halliday, who's being watched by an ordinary-looking couple, Eric and Nana.

Getting a moment to speak with Demerest, Halliday explains that he's dying, and Eric and Nana have been blackmailing him for months over an undisclosed discretion; the strange, silent woman is Halliday's daughter, who he's sheltered from the world and tried to inculcate a hatred of men in her, to make sure she never leaves him the way her mother did.  He now realizes that he was wrong to do so, and would Demerest make sure she finds her way in the world and into a good man's bed? Once he gets her away from Eric and Nana of course...

I don't know, this story didn't do a whole lot for me.  I thought it was excessively talky with too little action and a denouement that felt over-simplified.  People getting mauled by giant dogs is always pretty good, but overall the story was a disappointment for me.

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