My review of Avery Hopwood & Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Bat.
A supervillain stalks the countryside, and it will take a spinster to bring him to heel
For months, the city has lived in fear of the Bat. A master criminal hindered by neither scruple nor fear, he has stolen over one million dollars and left at least six men dead. The police are helpless, the newspapers know nothing—even the key figures of the city’s underworld have no clue as to the identity of the Bat. He is a living embodiment of death itself, and he is coming to the countryside.
There, he will encounter the only person who can stop him: adventurous sixty-five-year-old spinster Cornelia Van Gorder. Last in a long line of New York society royalty, Cornelia has found old age to be a bore, and is hungry for a bit of adventure. She’s going to find it—in a lonely old country house where every shadow could be the Bat.
I like the idea behind the story. I liked Cornelia Van Gorder. I found most of the other characters annoying, especially Lizzie and Dale. Some of the writing wasn’t to my taste as well. I think part of the problem I had with the writing is that it comes off very much as a play.
The vast majority of the story takes place in a single room in a house, and the final act takes place in another room in the same house. With all the comings and goings in this one room it made me feel just a little bit claustrophobic at times. I kept wanting to see something going on someplace else. But once they do finally move, it’s more coming and going from one room again.
The only character I actually enjoyed was Miss Cornelia Van Gorder. Billy the butler and Beresford were neutral, but all of the rest of the characters annoyed me. Dale came off as a stupid little lovelorn twit who seemed to be actively trying to get herself and her boyfriend either arrested or killed. I realize she’s supposed to be young and innocent of the world, but she reminded me of a twelve year old trying to get something past her parents or teacher. Bailey wasn’t much better. I never trusted Doctor Wells, always gave be a bad vibe, especially the way he vacillated between his own interests and actually being a doctor. But Lizzie was the worst. Her constant wailing and whining had me wanting to stuff a rag down her throat and throw her in the root cellar. Anderson acted like a complete prick the whole time; I wanted to take a black jack and knock him upside the head.
The good parts were the overall story arc, the heroine Cornelia, and the minor twist about who was actually killing whom (I was wrong about who killed Fleming) but had most all the other stuff worked out well before the reveal.
The eBook was formatted well with only one minor spelling mistake