THE INQUISITOR'S HOUSE by Robert Somerlott
Kirkus Star


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The device of threading together the stories or character studies of strangers who die together was not new when Thornton Wilder used it in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, with which this, as the publisher points out, will inevitably be compared not only for technique, but for its Mexican background. This traces the lives of five people who were incinerated in a flash-fire on the night of Mexico's Day of the Dead and found seated in the hand-holding circle of seances. The officials of Guanajuato in 1903 were ordered to make an investigation in order to allay stories of devil worshippers and the even more disturbing implications of finding an elderly socialite with a prostitute, a famous soldier, a doctor, and a medium. The household's dwarf got away and a conjurer who had hoped to attend came too late. The seven stories show each to have been compelled to communicate with their dead, driven by the guilt attaching to love or understanding withheld. Somerlott writes atmospherically and his novel extends past Wilder to suggest a worthy successor to Dinesen as a storyteller of Gothie-styled ironies.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1968
Publisher: Viking