Monday, November 10, 2014

"Beware the Night" by J.H. Rhodes

Published:  1984
Setting:  Modern Day

Nearing the light, they saw Orby Merton as he raised a shovel into the air and brought it down on a mound of earth.

Orby sensed they were watching him and he turned to face them.  "Cat got run over.  Buried the animal here, away from the house."

With that, Orby picked up the light and walked away into the darkening night.  For Shauna the walk had suddenly lost its appeal,

"Let's go back to the house," she whispered, and her voice had a croaking sound to it.

The picture of Orby Merton raising the shovel and smashing it against the mound of earth etched itself on Shauna's mind.  She wondered if he really was burying a cat.  It had been such an eerie picture that she couldn't keep from shuddering as she and Mike walked back to the house.

They entered the back door, which led to the kitchen.  Bonnie was standing in the center of the room with her hands on her hips.  She glanced at Shauna ad Mike and slowly shook her head.

"Is there anything wrong, Bonnie?"  Shauna asked as she slowly advanced toward the cook.

"It's that can of rat poison," Bonnie said.  "I could have sworn I left it on the lower shelf.  But it's not there now.  Either I misplaced it, or someone has made off with that poison."

Shauna Travis is beyond delighted when she receives an invitation to High Cliff, a yearly gathering spot for writers and artists, all expenses paid by an eccentric millionaire.  After working at a simple job in a small town, Shauna sees this as an opportunity to devote her time to painting, as she's a flourishing artist with little time left in her busy life for the arts.

However, things aren't what she expected as the first night brings an ominous accident to the poet-in-residence as she falls and hits her head dangerously close to the sea and bordering cliffs, or was really an accident at all?  Things turn even more sinister as strange lights appear near the shore and eerie screams pierce the night...then deadly, dangerous accidents begin to happen as the artists are plagued by pranks.

Each of the artists are eccentric among themselves, and Shauna wonders to herself if one of them may be hiding a dangerous motive beneath the accidents and strange happenings that seem to be haunting the shadowy mansion.  It seems the only person she can really trust is the mysterious sculptor Mike Robbins.  But she's not sure if she can trust him or not.

Will she survive her season by the sea, or will it come to a murderous end aa mysterious specters haunt the grounds, and for who knows what?

Like usual, Rhodes served as a quick, light, mysterious read.  I especially enjoyed the creative, artistic atmosphere, particularly with the eccentric cast of characters.  There was a good element of suspense, and the story did keep me reading.  At a little less than 200 pages, I finished this one in one sitting.  Recommend to fans of gothic and vintage gothic romance.

My Rating:
4 Stars

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