Saturday, August 12, 2017
The Monster of Grammont - George Goodchild
I hadn't been to The Book Trader for months. We thought we were moving, so I didn't want to get MORE books to move. But the move fell through when the seller changed his mind and begged us to release him from the contract. What could we do? It would be impossible to live in a house that had been reluctantly sold. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be nice - unless this means that a more perfect property is coming our way.
Anyway, while browsing the wonderful mystery section of the store, I saw this old hardback. (There was also an Edgar Wallace in the same Mystery League edition, which I went back and got the other day.) I knew nothing about the author, and the title seemed a bit strange, but I got it anyway. (The Book Trader is a credit exchange store. I take books in, they give me store credit, and I 'buy' more books.)
The story takes place around 1920. Julian Conrad and his young friend and business partner Ralph Wallace are touring France in Wallace's fast, new Bentley. Conrad, known as Connie, spies a castle he recognizes from a rest cure he'd been forced to take there during WWI. They happen on the owner, Monsieur Fallieres, and his daughter, Yolande. Wallace and Connie are invited to lunch.
There are strange doings at the castle. A huge monster in a monks' cloak haunts the place. It smashes mirrors and throws dirt indoors. It has also killed a servant. Wallace and Connie stay to help solve the mystery. There are more murders, Connie and Wallace are kidnapped, Yolande disappears.
Other people are looking for something in the castle, aided by Bertha, a servant in the castle who seems to be too refined for a servant. Are they searching for treasure or something else?
I liked this book. I learned some things about WWI and it eventually became a page turner. In addition to the kidnappings and searches for 'the monster', there were several car chases. Those races at 70, 80, 90 mph! were fun to read about.
Wikipedia has very little to say about George Goodchild. He wrote about 200 books under several names. He wrote novels, mysteries, plays, non-fiction, and more. He was British, born in 1888 and died in 1969. And that's about it.
It doesn't look like his works are in print. I see used copies from $3.50 to much higher prices. If you stumble on one of his books and it's not too dear, you might want to try it. I'll be keeping my eyes open.