FLORENCE STEVENSON – Mistress of Devil’s Manor. Kitty Telefair #4. Award AN1130, paperback original; 1st printing, 1973.

   Florence Stevenson, the author of the short-lived Kitty Telefair psychic detective series, of which this is the fourth, seems to have been published only in paperback originals. I loved the first one I read, Altar of Evil, and knowing of my fondness for these marzipan confections, a good friend recently sent me this one and The Sorcerer of the Castle.

   In Mistress, Kitty goes off to a resort hotel to find out what has happened to her friend, Gillian Bond, who has disappeared on a honeymoon trip to a Western ghost town. The ghost town is, of course, inhabited by something more frightening than Patrick Swayze, and even Kitty’s psychic powers seem, for a time, perhaps not equal to the horror she find there.

   But our girl, outfitted in silk shorts, Levis and riding boots, wins out, although her powers are somewhat diminished by a roll in the hay with Professor Darius Flynn, a hot-blooded Irish academic.

   The moral dilemma posed by Kitty’s betrayal of her relationship with her fiance is neatly disposed of in the last paragraph. I like Kitty a lot. She’s not the fainting type, has a healthy appetite, and buys clothes that flatter her figure: “At about four in the afternoon I drove to Goldwater’s Department Store and bought three pant suits of the thinnest nylon I could find; I also bought Levis, riding boots and a white Stetson that probably spelled ‘dude’ in mile-high letters across the hat band, but since it was madly becoming, I did not care.” Right on, Kitty.

   And right on, Florence Stevenson, too. She probably dashed these off for the public’s sweet tooth, but she has a sharp eye for telling detail and the story generates suspense and a goosebump or two. Oh, and by the way, there’s a treasure map and a lost cave in a forbidding mountain range, guarded by … but why don’t you look this one up and find out?

      The Kitty Telefair series —

The Witching Hour. Award A868, 1971

Where Satan Dwells. Award A883, 1971
Altar of Evil. Award AN1107, 1973
Mistress of Devil’s Manor. Award AN1130, 1973
The Sorcerer of the Castle. Award AN1219, 1974
The Silent Watcher. Award AQ1413, 1975

The Horror from the Tombs. Award AD1658, 1977.

EDITORIAL UPDATE:   That last line, as it has turned out, is quite a teaser. This review first appeared in Walter’s DAPA-Em zine for September 1990, and in the meantime, copies of this particular paperback have all but disappeared. There is only one to be found for sale on the Internet, and that one in the $40 range. Of some of the others, there are only one or two copies, often in only fair to good condition, with none at all of Altar of Evil or The Horror from the Tombs. In fact, of the latter, it was not known to Hubin until now that Horror was a Kitty Telefair novel.

   Thanks to Ken Johnson and his online Fantasy Gothic checklist for assisting on the bibliographic data above. Covers to all may be found there as well.