MARIONETTE by Margaret James


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An 1870s English horror/mystery tale of moderate chill-which would have been more penetrating with a bit less chatter and a bit more rattling of the creepy marionettes, central focus of four murders. Our heroine is young Regina Curtis, who drops in on Louis Boussard, an uncle she's never met, and Louis' wife Marionette, so named by her great, late puppet-master father. Marionette is bedridden, seems a bit cracked, and is rumored by the servants to possess strange powers. And Regina also finds the servants a mine of information and gossip concerning the nasty cousins-in-residence: lascivious Marcelle Pritchard, who's horribly cruel to her mute daughter Jeanne but adores slimy son Victor, who in turn adores his live-in lover Conrad Von Holtz; and Pritchard p≤re, a greedy low-life all wrapped up with his Lambeth mistress. Frightening folk--plus the fearful fascination of Louis' marionette ""workshop."" And then. . . three murders, climaxing in that of Marcelle, who dangles from a tree beside her similarly suspended look-alike marionette. Also: Regina hears thin nighttime singing, is sexually molested, and what--eek!--is that tiny figure gliding up the stairs? But, with the help of another visitor, handsome Philippe Levisse, she weathers a horrible surprise in the workshop, reads the murderer's diary, and finds love. Competent--you'll hang on to see who's hanging up--but lacking the concentrated terror to lift it above Victorian run-of-the-thrill suspense.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's