The creator of Batman, Bob Kane, has cited the title character in this novel from America’s first great mystery writer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, as the inspiration for the "caped crusader".
The Bat, co-written by Avery Hopwood in 1920, is about an unidentified criminal genius who has stolen over a million dollars and left a trail of murder victims. When wealthy spinster Cornelia Van Gorder arrives in her country house, she discovers that The Bat is rumored to be in the area. Soon, mysterious people begin showing up in her house.
Shelly Frasier brings a theatrical flair to her performance as she accentuates the fun in Rinehart’s colorful characters and hardboiled prose.
The spirited and headstrong spinster is not easily fazed until one stormy night when she stumbles on a corpse. She musters all her nerves to play the vicious killer's deadly game and confront the Bat once and for all. The Bat, which draws from The Circular Staircase but adds some new plot complexities - namely the villainous Bat - shows Rinehart at the height of her career and is considered her greatest work.
© (P)2002 Tantor Media, Inc.
This is a book more appropriate for listening than reading since it sounds very much like the play which gave it birth. The reader does justice to the tale which unfolds much as would one of the hour radio suspense dramas of the thirties through the fifties. To get the most from this sort of book one must suspend one's twenty first century sensibilities and return to the days when imagination alone provided pictures for the mind as one heard stories of buried treasure, secret rooms, loving juveniles and heroic old ladies.
Since these days I most enjoy the bloodless mystery or detective story wherein bodies are simply props for the story not gory messes to be dissected, this book was quite satisfying as was the reader. Those who prefer modern variants of the hard boiled school or heroes and heroines who are no better, but just tougher, than the bad guys, should go elsewhere as should those who can't abide stereotyped characters who bemoan their fate and fall to pieces (loudly) in crisis. Drop some of your modern cynicism and sophistication and you will get a good couple of evenings from this book.
Boy this story had me hooked from the beginning. Suspense, plot twist, young love and murder. What's not to like? I kept having to remind myself that this book was written at a time when female characters were treated condescendingly and had no grit. Cornelia was fabulous, though. She was full of grit and wealthy enough to get life on her terms.
This is so interwoven, it borders on confusion. Listen to the book in one pod of time. Upon further reflection, it really is well written. Well developed characters.
Loved it when I first read in print (50 years ago) and love it still, listening to it. Any chance of more Mary Roberts Reinhardt audio books? As many have already said, she's almost as witty as Dorothy L Sayers, and has far more style than Agatha Christie. This is genuine vintage stuff.
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