William F. Deeck

FRANCES NOYES HART – Hide in the Dark. Doubleday Doran & Co., hardcover, 1929.

   Somewhere in Maryland is Lady Court, an old manor house long uninhabited except for the possible ghost of a murderer. On All-Hallows Eve, 1928, the March Hares — four people born in March and claiming to be mad, in s good sense — hold a gathering of spouses and friends to become acquainted and be reacquainted. There are thirteen altogether, a fitting number, if you don’t count the ghost and the memory of another March Hare who had committed suicide on the grounds ten years earlier.

   Lots of undertones and overtones here as early-day jet-setters — I guess they are ocean-liner-setters — mingle with the not so successful, the jealous, the emotionally deprived. And then, after the apple bobbing, comes the game called “Hide in the Dark” and murder. All the people in the house had access to the means, most had the opportunity, and many had a motive.

   While I didn’t particularly appreciate most of the involved chitchat at the beginning — the list of characters that was provided came in handy here — when the murder occurs, the novel became quite gripping. Forgive the slow beginning; it’s worth struggling through it for the rest of the book.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 3, Fall 1991, “Holiday Murders.”