THE TULIP TREE by Howard Rigsby


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This muddle of things borrowed and blue is entertaining only insofar as it keeps the reader guessing what it's all about. To begin with, the Old House, every timber vibrating with tradition and myth, is bought by editor Kimball Watts and his wife Josephine, who weeps at dead birds. Soon the characters crowd the grand old grounds; over-hearty George Stauffer and his hateful old mother; a precocious teen-ager who ""helps the Stauffers around the house""; ancient Negro Benjii (a sort of malignant Gypsy Boots); old Miss Carrie, an eery little being who has taken an unaccountable vow of silence; an evil ""albino"", Clarissa Cutler; and historian Miss Van Broeck who uncovers the unsavory past of the house. Among the grim humours wafting through the present are a racial strife perpetuated by the descendants of slaves and owners; three old murders and assorted bloodstains on the floor; and the question of the rightful inheritor of the house. It is a long wasteland of creaking woodwork until the clouds are dispelled and Clarissa is symbolically immolated, the Stauffers are off and away, and a brand new development is to be built across the street. Familiar, though slightly addled, suspense.

Publisher: Doubleday