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This one is for the reading pleasure of the eternal boy popularly supposed to exist in all grown men. The title is the name of a cutthroat's tavern in post-Revolutionary Virginia, a labyrinthine structure built by a river pirate and central to the solution of the cryptic map to a fabulous lost treasure he sent by way of a fallen priest to the thirteen-year-old son he had abandoned. Dan Cresap tells the tale, of the night the priest came to him, pursued by a demoniacal dwarf (what a role for Michael Dunne) who led a band of pirates bent on getting to the treasure first. From Christmas Eve to the New Year, Dan and his blind girl companion are seldom out of danger and always near death at the hands of the pirate band. Some of the scenes are Hitchcockian in their magnificently visual horror-potential one is aboard a floating wax museum in which lifelike Revolutionary heroes, English kings and famous murderers become even more lifelike in the moments of melting when the riverboat is put to the torch with Dan aboard. The final scene has Dan and his motley helpers in his father's old wine cellar, with drunken pirates about to descend and the murderous midget creeping in by way of a secret tunnel to the river. Grubb has taken the wooden mechanisms of melodrama and put them together as smoothly as the workings of a Swiss-made watch for an evening's entertainment in old-fashioned storytelling.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1968
Publisher: World--NAL