William F. Deeck

RICHARD HULL – The Ghost It Was. Putnam, US, hardcover, 1937. First published in the UK by Faber & Faber, hardcover, 1937. Penguin, UK. paperback, 1950.

   Looking for employment that doesn’t require any work, Gregory Spring-Benson checks out journalism. Unfortunately, The New Light wants experience or at least a good story. A potential story is what Spring-Benson discovers when he finds that his estrange — and strange — uncle has purchased an allegedly haunted house in Amberhurst.

   The possibility of the story, plus maybe getting his uncle, notoriously stingy, to part with some money, stirs Spring-Benson to go to Amberhurst.

   There, after some travail, he meets some cousins who are not much better than he, although probably not much worse. The house’s ghost — both fake and maybe real — appears, perhaps committing a murder and then definitely committing one.

   A bit too much coincidence and little doubt about who the murderer is, if it wasn’t the spook, are the weak points here. Still, Hull always amuses and entertains with his odd characters. His works are well worth looking for.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

Bibliographic Notes:   Richard Hull was the pseudonym of Richard Henry Sampson, (1896-1973). His first novel, Murder of My Aunt, published in 1935, is perhaps also his best known. It has the honor of being included as one of the Haycraft-Queen cornerstones of mystery fiction. Hull has in total 15 entries in Hubin.