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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The House in the Mist, by Anna Katharine Green


The House in the Mist
By Anna Katharine Green
1905

Project Gutenberg edition

To the best of my recollection, this is my first experience with the fiction of Anna Katharine Green. According to Wikipedia, she was active in the field between 1878 and 1923, with this work falling more or less in the middle of that span.

I don't know if I'd call The House in the Mist mystery fiction, at least not in the sense of a whodunit with a detective or law enforcement officer trying to crack the case. But it's close enough for government work and a pretty entertaining novella, clocking in at about fifteen thousand words.

As our narrator approaches and eventually enters the house mentioned in the title, he soon finds himself joined by a gang of mostly unsavory characters, one of whom is a lawyer. As it turns out, they are all there for the reading of the will of a wealthy sibling who has passed on recently. Which is about as much as I can tell without spoiling things.

Though the ending was rather obvious not so far on, that didn't really diminish the story in any way. Green has a way with atmosphere and with expertly sketching out a group of unlikeable characters that you wouldn't really want to meet in real life. For some reason I kept thinking of Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery as I read this, if just for the atmosphere and general creepiness of it all.

Worth a look.

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