The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, Part I: The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)

So I love Nancy Drew.

Time to get on the case!

I grew up reading The Nancy Drew Case Files and loved it-my favorites being the crossover mysteries with the Hardy Boys. Now I know Nancy and Ned are meant to be together, but I have to admit-I really want Frank and Nancy to end up together. They are just so cute together!

So this episode is from the TV series, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries. This show came out in the 1970s, the first season alternating every week between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The second season saw four crossover episodes, and only three Nancy Drew as the actresses playing her left the series. Season three was reworked to be just the Hardy Boys. I first discovered this show when I bought an old VHS with an episode on it, “A Haunting We Will Go“, at a library book sale.

It was a good series while it lasted, I just wish there had been more. If you are interested in watching, all these episodes are currently on youtube, here’s the link if you want to watch this one. I actually preferred the Nancy Drew episodes to the Hardy Boys, I mean I love Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy but the Hardy Boys always solved CIA, Interpol, spy mysteries and I liked that you never knew what you were going to get with Nancy Drew-embezzlement, theft, murder, etc.

But my favorite of all the episodes were the crossovers episodes, this being the first of them, in fact the very first time any Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew crossover happened. So enough intro, let’s get on to the review:

Mystery, you say?

At the beginning of every episode we see the Universal logo. I’ve always wondered why they haven’t remade it, I would watch it. But then again they would probably mess it up like they did with Nancy Drew (2007) film.

forgetaboutit

So to start we have the awesome intro and amazing intro music.

I love the setup, and I espechially love the book covers in the background and that music. Ooh! It sends shivers up an down my spine and gets me in the mood for a mystery.

Creepy…

We start off with Fenton Hardy (father of the Hardy Boys) driving up to Dracula’s castle in a taxi, the driver complaining about the American Rock singer using Dracula’s castle.

The taxi driver/caretaker warns Mr. Hardy not to go inside-its very old and possibly cursed. The caretaker won’t stay as he s too afraid, and tells Mr. Hardy he will wait for him at the bottom oft hill. Good-bye.

See ya!

Mr. Hardy goes into the castle and a bat flies at him, Dracula?

He looks round but doesn’t spot anything, hmm.

Hmmm…from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

But we see that someone is behind him. Mr. Hardy drops his flashlight and lights a torch finding a skeleton in the passage of the castle he is searching, but before he can look further the person following him knocks him out cold.

That’s not good.

We move to Paris 5 days later. Joe (Shaun Cassidy) and Frank (Parker Stevenson) have arrived to the morgue as they lost contact with their dad and was notified of a body that fit his description. They go to to see if it is their father but it isn’t him, thankfully. They are happy he isn’t dead, but that begs the question what happened to him, and where is he?

Can I stop and talk about how adorable these guys are. I love both of them and their portrayal is spot on. They are not only entertaining but completely believable as brothers-at times I forget they aren’t really siblings. They are the Dean and Sam (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) of the ’70s.  Okay, now we can go back to the episode.

They go the hotel their father had rented a room in and spot a band playing outside, The Circus.

They go to their father’s room, but someone is inside searching it, it is Inspector Stavlin (Lorne Green) of the Romanian police. He was working with their father and trying to solve the case of art thefts occurring throughout Europe. Mr. Hardy called Stavlin to join him in Paris as he had a lead, but after that Stavlin hasn’t heard from him since.

That’s not good.

Stavlin encourages them to give up and go home, Obviously, he doesn’t know the Hardy boys very well as they are totally going to continue to go after their father. Stalin leaves as he has to return to Transylvania.

Joe is more superstitious and that perks him up right away, Transylvania as in Dracula?

The boys search the room and find their dad’s notebook in his usual hiding spot.

There is a list of dates on the art thefts, and something else was booked at the same time. There is a meeting note, which the boys intend to keep:

Munich

Meet at the Ritz

June 11 5:00 pm

Book Rm 301

Name Fredricks

There is also another note on about a Dracula Festival on June 12th. That sounds awesome.

They pay the band they spotted earlier, to join them. Of course the band is down for it as they will be making money. Joe is going to sing and first he is upset that Frank threw him out into it like that- but of course he can sing, he’s a Cassidy after all. And it turns out they are headed to the same Dracula festival-fantastic. They boys head to Munich and arrive on June 10th, just in time for the meeting. Frank sweet talks the concierge and gets the room. The boys leave their stuff and stop to get something to eat.

Meanwhile, Nancy Drew (Pamela Sue Martin) has arrived and is shock to hear there are a group instead of a man in Rm 302. She is traveling with Bess which is odd, as Nancy never brought her friends with her on “serious” cases, usually they were with her when things turned into a case.

Hmm…

Nancy is upset to hear that there are young men in the room instead of a 40-year old man. They send the suitcases back to the desk. Bess questions how does Nancy know that she hasn’t sent the contact away, but as they aren’t an older man so she doesn’t care.

From Mean Girls

I’m with Bess, that doesn’t seem like a good idea Nancy. What if your contact sent someone else in his place? What I would have done was stayed in the room and ordered room service until I could talk to the guys.

Frank spots the bellman and grabs their luggage sending them back up in the room. Meanwhile Joe is still trying to get the attention of a waiter, but no dice. Frank questions if it is his father, but finds out it is ladies. He sends the girls’ stuff down.

Joe tries to order but his waiter is stolen by Nancy. This exchange is hilarious and as Frank comes back in a bad mood because of the luggage, and it develops when there is no food on the table. Him being upset with Joe was so realistic, like real siblings. No joke, this is me and my sister.

From The Awful Truth

Meanwhile, Nancy has spotted her bags being taken down and sends her bags upstairs. She’s had enough and leaves Bess downstairs to eat while she heads up to the room. Frank and Joe also decide to go upstairs as they are tired of this too. Sharing the elevator, Frank is very into Nancy and tries to talk her up-but she’s in a hurry and Nancy brushes him off. Joe is upset with her as she stole their waiter. Frank is hurt to lose a chance with a beautiful girl, but Joe consoles him as he’ll see her again-she has the same room as them.

Nancy: What do you want? What are you doing in my room?

Joe: We want our waiter back

Frank: Joe!

Hilarious!!!! If I was Nancy I think I’d be a freaked out that this boy has diner rage to follow me my room. Like, this guy is crazy.

You are crazy From The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Frank tells her this is their room. Then he threatens to take the bags out himself if Nancy doesn’t leave and when he tries to touch her luggage-Nancy does a Judo flip on him. I love how Frank and Joe are impressed with Nancy’s skills, as for Frank he likes her even more.

Of course they hash it out and discover that Nancy is the one supposed to meet their father.The boys share that he is missing and they are searching for him.  Nancy tells them she got on the case through her father. She and her friend were in Paris taking a summer class (that’s why Bess is with her) when one of her father’s client’s painting was stolen. It turned out to be one in a series and Nancy started to investigate it and came across Fenton Hardy. She spoke to Fenton 10 days ago, and he told her that he discovered that the rock group Allison Troy was always in the city that the art was stolen from. They believe it to be either Allison Troy or a member of his entourage. Nancy is set on taking over the case herself, but Frank and Joe aren’t letting go. As they have an in with the Dracula rock concert, they think Nancy should stay behind.

Nancy won’t be left behind as she is heading to Transylvania as well. She storms off to collect Bess.

Nancy Drew: Come on we have an appointment to keep.

Bess Marvin: With who?

Nancy Drew: Dracula

So the boys arrive at the castle a day early and it is a dark, spooky, rainy, and chilly night, of course it is as it is the Dracula’s castleThe band is too freaked that they head down to the town to relax.

Inspector Stavlin is at the hotel with the town council and is not happy about this concert and them using Dracula is such a way. No one else heads his warnings of troubles coming as everyone else is happy with the money coming in. Hotel’s almost sold out, restaurants packed, shops are doing good, etc.

The boys spot the Inspector and meet the mayor and the rest of the council. Stavlin continues to share his disgust at the idea of the Dracula festival. The mayor is making fun of him and asks who he fears…Dracula, coming for revenge? Stavlin states he isn’t afraid, but that the others should have more respect…Dracula desires it or else.

Frank shares that they found their father’s notebook and that their father had written about the festival. Stavlin thanks them for sharing and tells them if they find anything else to come to him.

When the boys sign in Joe spots that a B. Fredricks registered at the same hotel. So if his father came and was such good friends with Stavlin, why didn’t he meet him there? Is their father still there? Kidnapped? Dead?

Hmmm…

June 12th arrives and so starts the rock concert. Allison Troy is dressed up in a Dracula style outfit and has a party with many people dressed up as monsters. This looks so cool, I wish that it was real so I could go.

From Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

The boys arrive and Troy and his people have the contracts and costumes. They warn the band to watch out for the crumbling castle and to treat the house with respect as it is a national treasure. One area they are not allowed to enter, it is forbidden. Of course the boys perk up on this and plan to investigate it later.

Stavlin is obsessed with Dracula, calling the castle a cemetery and acts like he believes Dracula is real and will rise again. The mayor hates Stavlin and is happy he’ll be gone soon he’s at the retirement age (they are forcing him to retire). The Mayor and the rest of the council are taking a tour of the castle as they haven’t been in there before.

Joe goes on to perform while Frank plans to search the castle. On of the running gags on this show is that every time Joe sings, Frank always misses it.

Frank starts searching the spooky castle, and someone is following him as we can see their boots.

That’s not good.

Meanwhile, Bess and Nancy have arrived in costume. Bess doesn’t want to search  the castle but stay and listen to Joe, but Nancy insists they need to search the cavern.

As the Mayor and friends are looking through out the castle, they find a large seal that says Dracula. This is supposedly his grave and the rest of the group and the caretaker/guide of the castle are all deeply frightened.

The mayor is the only one who has no fear and feels the Dracula story is just a lot of hooey. However, after they leave the “grave” we see it move aside and that someone resides in the chamber…or some monster. The black boots we have seen earlier come out. Is it Dracula having risen from the grave?

From The Horror of Dracula

One of the members of the group falls behind, its Berger the hotel owner, and is taken.

From the Cat and the Canary

The mayor and his people finish their tour and Frank is also searching passing by the seal. Nancy and Bess as well poke around the caverns. Bess is no help at all in this story as she just complains about being there in the cavern. As the girls pass by Dracula’s grave, the wall opens again and whoever it is (Dracula? ) starts following them.

From Return of the Vampire

Frank spots Berger in a cell and runs in to see if he is okay when he is locked in as well. Frank checks Berger and sees the vampire bit marks on his throat:

Nancy and Bess see them and Bess screams.

So typically Fridays are the days that I review TV episodes but as I couldn’t see waiting a whole week, I will post part II tomorrow.

So the second half of this episode I think is actually better. This one was a lot more set up with the detectives meeting up, getting them to Transylvania-more exposition. Tomorrow’s episode will have a lot more action to it.

The first time I saw this episode I was soooo into it I just had to find out what happened next. Where was their father? Would Nancy and Frank and Joe get along? Is it really Dracula or is it someone who thinks they are Dracula/pretending to be Dracula? As this was done by Universal I could see it going either way. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Until then….

For more Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, go to A Haunting We Will Go: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)

For more Nancy Drew, go to Those Men Are Not Going to Stand for Nancy Drew Poking Her Little Nose Into Their Affairs: Nancy Drew, Detective (1938)

For more Dracula, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more Detectives, go to It’s a Weird Case from the Start. A Case With a Hole in the Center: Knives Out (2019)

For more mysteries, go to One Day You’ll See Something You Shouldn’t: Rear Window (1954)

It’s a Weird Case from the Start. A Case With a Hole in the Center: Knives Out (2019)

Hey everybody, for this year we are doing something special: Sleuthing Sundays. Each Sunday I’ll post a film with a super sleuth! Our third film is:

It’s a weird case from the start. A case with a hole in the center. A doughnut.

So this was the first post I wrote for Horrorfest IX. I wrote it waaay back in January 2020, ah a more simpler time, when I was trying to get ahead. I usually try to do at list one post a month so I have nine ready when October rolls around to give me a little extra time in the month.

So back in January 2020, my friend called me up about wanting to hang out and I agreed. Last time we went to her place so I wanted to reciprocate with mine, but I had been working on Valentine’s Cards and had paper everywhere and a mess.

I’m a mess

To hide this I suggested going to the movies, (remember when we could do that?), and she agreed saying she had wanted to see Knives Out.

I heartily agreed as I love mysteries and the trailer made me think of those old Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple films from the ’70s.

Mystery, you say?

We went and saw it and I really enjoyed it, although there was one thing I did not like. The whole film from the text, color choices, decor, costumes, hairstyles (talking about you detectives with those sideburns) etc-evoked a late 1970s vibe to it, but it was set in modern times. It was extremely jarring to be watching and having all your senses set you in 1970 and then someone whips out an iPhone or talks about instagram. I think it would have been a bit better if they had just set it in the 1970s, but that’s just me.

I also didn’t like the vomit parts, but other than that I really enjoyed this film and have already seen it three times this year.

I also like how his had no romantic pair or love angle. It was refreshing to have the main characters just be about something else, than to have them get together in the end.

So the film starts off with a big birthday party for the family patriarch, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). He invited his whole family and his nurse, but the next day is found dead-throat slashed.

Lt. Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) are called on the scene and believe it to be suicide, (the Trooper is one of my favorite characters as he fanboys over all the Thrombey books), but then world renowned private investigator, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) appears saying that he was delivered a note and cash, so he is here to investigate.

Time to get on the case!

Each person is taken aside and questioned, all having a motive-but which one did it?

Hmmm…

Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the eldest daughter and built a real estate company from the ground up (not really as she got the money from her dad). She was told that she would no longer receive any money and neither would her spendthrift son, Ransom (Chris Evans). She says she doesn’t care about herself or her son being cutoff, but is she lying? Could she kill him to protect her young?

Hmm…?

Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), Linda’s husband is cheating on her and Harlan caught him. If Linda divorces him, he’ll have nothing (he signed a prenup). Could he have killed him to keep it a secret?

Hmm…

Hugh Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) was told by his grandfather that night that he was to be written out of th will. The two argued and he didn’t return until the will was read. Did he secretly return and kill him to protect his inheritance?

Hmm…from Saboteur

Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) is the widow of Harlan’s middle son. She is famous on instagram and is a lifestyle guru. She has the followers, but still relies on Harlan to meet the cost of bills and day to day living. She’s been cheating him by getting twice as much money having the accountants give her her daughter’s college fees, while Harlan also pays straight to the school. He told Joni he was cutting her and Meg off. Did Joni kill him to keep the money?

Hmm…

Megan “Meg” Thrombey (Katherine Langford) found out about hr college fund being cut off. She also left and when she returned was seen to go straight to her bedroom. Could she had killed him so she could continue her schooling?

Hmmm…

Walter “Walt” Thrombey (Michael Shannon) is the youngest brother and in charge of his father’s publishing company. He is fired from the company as Harlan wants his son to be free to be his own person. Did he kill him to keep control and have the money? (This out of all the people I actually feel bad for. Where is he going to get a job now? How is he going to start over at his age?)

But P.I. Benoit Blanc believes that something is missing. He continues to search and forces nurse, Marta Cabrera, to join him on his investigations…but Marta ended up killing him when she switched his accidentally gave him the wrong medication. Harlan kills himself to protect her. So she is helping Blanc solve the murder she committed…oh no.

That’s not good.

I also love the white sweater that Ransom wears. It makes me think of the one Rod Taylor wears in The Birds.

 

The best part of the film, besides Trooper Wagner, was Craig’s character-Private Detective Benoit Blanc.

I could happily watch film after film of his character. I hope they make a sequel with him.

I liked the plot-but I did figure out the ending. Things just didn’t sit right with me of what they showed. I was whispering to me friend, when Blanc said the doughnut line and I was like, yes! That’s what I was thinking!!

Benoit Blanc: I spoke in the car about the hole at the center of this doughnut. And yes, what you and Harlan did that fateful night seems at first glance to fill that hole perfectly. A doughnut hole in the doughnut’s hole. But we must look a little closer. And when we do, we see that the doughnut hole has a hole in its center – it is not a doughnut hole at all but a smaller doughnut with its own hole, and our doughnut is not whole at all!

But it was great, and every time you watch it there is more that you pick up on. Like the symbolism of Go and the way Marta plays it becoming important later. There is more, so if you haven’t watched it yet-you should.

For more detectives, go to This Village is Full of Strange People: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Endless Night (2013)

For more Chris Evans, go to We’re Mad Scientists. We’re Monsters: Avengers, Age of Ultron (2015)

For more Jamie Lee Curtis, go to There’s Something in the Fog!: The Fog (1980)

For more Michael Shannon, go to Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

For more Christopher Plummer, go to Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)

The Adventure of the Sinister Scenario: Ellery Queen (1976)

 

So it is time for our annual Vincent Price film or TV episode.

I love Vincent Price and I can’t resist anything he is in. I was trying to decide on a film or TV episode, but this Ellery Queen episode intrigued me as I needed to fill a Friday TV show spot, because this episode looked fun, and I couldn’t resist adding another Sleuth to my “mysterious” year.

Mystery, you say?

So I have never read an Ellery Queen mystery or watched this TV show-but I do know who Ellery Queen is. In the Leverage episode “10 Little Grifters” Nate dresses up as him and the first time I saw that episode I had to look up who Ellery Queen is. Ellery Queen is actually similar to Diagnosis Murder, but backwards. Inspector Richard Queen is a renowned detective and his son a famous crime writer, who helps his father solve the really tough cases. (Like how Steve Sloan is a detective and his doctor father, Dr. Mark Sloan, solves all his tough cases).

So I found this episode on youtube and it was a lot of fun watching it as it had the original commercials that it aired with. So enough about that, let’s get started.

It has an old CREST commercial, I can’t believe these girls are fighting over which toothpaste to use. I wouldn’t care what my friends would want. I don’t think I even know what brand they use.

The episode starts off with them filming a scene from an Ellery Queen murder mystery- like how most end, when the director yells cut. The director is played by Vincent Price, I’d know his voice anywhere. I’d listen to him read a phonebook.

The Vincent Price, director Michael Raynor, isn’t happy and I don’t blame him. The guy playing Ellery Queen stinks, like he’s the literal worst. Meanwhile Ellery Queen and his dad are watching and are not impressed. They changed his story and dialogue. I feel you Ellery, Hollywood has ruined many things I love as well.

Vincent Price yells at everyone and is just at the end of his rope, and I hope he isn’t the one who is murdered. I’ll be disappointed if he’s in it for only a second.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

OMGosh the guy playing Ellery Queen in the movie, Gilbert Mallory (Troy Donahue), is a serious jerk and diva. He’s going to die. I just know it! Too bad Michael Raynor can’t fire him as he owns part of the film and has a lot of power. It’d be great if he died.

Mallory meets the real Queen and is incredibly rude to him. What a jerk!

Mallory is cruel to the publicist and rewrote his script to steal lines from others-he’s totally going to be murdered.

So both the Queens are extremely disappointed in the experience. Inspector Queen expected glitz and glamour-but the studio is a really low budget one and doesn’t have the perks like the big studios. Ellery is upset that he didn’t get an updated script, all the changes are a surprise and an unwelcome one.

The publicist tries to console him and tells him he never gets the script changes either. How a guy can promote something without fully knowing what he is promoting is beyond me.

A lady interrupts them when she comes driving up to see Mallory-I’m assuming she’s the diva’s wife. She is and she is on set to keep her eyes on her husband, her husband who is involved with one of the actresses, Pamela, on set. Man, Mallory is digging his grave-someone is going to kill him, but who?

So the prop man unlocks the locker and grabs the prop gun, but leaves it open. Hmm…interesting,

Oh, I bet that this will be like that Psych episode Lights, Camera…Homicido where the man was murdered when the prop was switched out with a real knife. Mallory will probably be shot by the prop gun and really be shot as the gun will no longer be filled with blank but real bullets.

Pamela (the actress Mallory is sleeping with) shoots Mallory and closes her eyes when she does it. I don’t think she did that the first time. Almost as if…hmmm.

Hmm…is it her?

So she shoots him and all are happy with how Mallory died, as it finally looks real…but when he doesn’t get up, it turns out that he was…murdered. Shot by real bullets.

Ellery and Inspector are investigating which makes the local cops angry as they can’t stand these guys “butting in”. The Queens try to tell him about Mrs. Mallory-her threat of a final good-bye and that she didn’t leave when she said she did as her purse is still on set. There’s no way she would have left without it.

Hmm…

The head of the investigation, Captain Blake comes and it turns out that he and Inspector Queen are good friends who go way back. He makes the Lt. who was complaining earlier have them be a part. Haha!

They find Mrs. Mallory and she proclaims her innocence. She cries and says she loved her husband and would never kill him, and even if she wanted to she wouldn’t have had access to the prop box. She insists she only came back to talk to him as she no longer was upset. Hmmm…Her husband’s company had half the money in it-she probably could get access to the props. And did she really came back to talk to him? Or kill him?

Hmm…

Inspector Queen leaves to find the home of Dorothy Lamour and Ellery finds a note on his script telling him to talk to Al in special effects. He heads over there and it turns out Al has disappeared.

Ellery shows one of the other SFX guys his note and they find Al, who happens to be a fan and wants Ellery’s help. He insists that he put in six blanks this morning and never touched the gun again to reload it. He thinks someone got to the gun and put the real bullets in. He came in to work that morning and was loading the gun and received a phone call. With the phone being on the other end of the lot he ran over there, and it turned out that there was no one on the line. That’s the only time someone could have planted them.

His reason for hiding and not sharing this with the police? His sister was script girl on one of Mallory’s other pictures and he was afraid it would give him a motive, as Mallory dropped her and as she is “just a kid” it broke her heart. Ellery urges him to talk to the cops and they will treat him right.

In the next scene Al is in handcuffs. Yes, it turns out he had threatened Mallory, a fact he forgot to share with Ellery.

Lt. Smary Jerk Attitude gleefully tells Ellery what they discovered. He really hates Ellery.

The next commercials are pretty boring although one is for the Chicago Fire Festival. What is that?

Anyways, back to the show. The Queens are invited to a scrumptious brunch by Director Raynor. Inspector is mad as he wants to do some touristy things, but hey scrumptious brunch with Vincent Price, I mean Raynor, will have almost all your suspects and the gossip.

The big question in the air is whether or not the picture will go forward. And no one is quite sure. The Publicist for the film wants to get the stuntman Mike to be moved up to the lead, but Raynor isn’t interested in an “unknown”. This seems weird to be as you think the publicist would know better than to suggest that-their relationship seems weird.

The actor playing Inspector Queen in the movie goes to Raynor and tries to get him to reverse some of the changes Mallory made, but Raynor isn’t interested in dealing with it at the moment.

Hmmm…

Pamela isn’t too sad about the possibility of canceling the film as she will be able to get the part she really wanted in another film, a part that came her way after she signed the contracts for this film. Meanwhile, Mrs. Mallory is angry and starts pointing the finger at Raynor- telling Inspector Queen that her husband planned to fire him, but was killed first

Pamela also encourages them to look over Raynor’s gun collection as he’s a hunter and has a ton of guns that range from all types and decades. Ellery is super interested, but his father is done and ready to leave.

With that attitude I’m not surprised Ellery is the famous crimesolver in the family.

The actor playing the Inspector runs after the two and tells them something he just remembered. Originally Mallory had been wearing a real bulletproof vest but it was changed by Al, the prop man. If he had still had it on at the time then he would be alive today.

They go through the prop memos and find that Raynor was the one who asked for a bulletproof vest and that he wanted a simulated one instead. Raynor explains that Mallory hated the vest as he thought it made him look fat. Raynor tried to change his mind, but no dice, and he instead gave in. To some that may seem like a lame excuse, but the way this diva was, I believe it. The change was discussed off set with only Pamela being the one to hear if it.

Hmm…

Ellery is trying to figure it out who the killer is and starts reading over the scripts (the original and changed one)

The guy who plays Inspector Queen is always popping up and pointing fingers. I’m starting to wonder if it is going to be him as he always just “happens” to be there. He reveals that the end shooting scene changed from the original because the director requested it. It would save $200 to have Mallory be on the phone and shot by Pamela than to crash through a window by a stuntman.

But Ellery has discovered something very interesting, in the original writing, if real bullets were placed in the gun it would be harder to kill him on target, but in the new script-with the proximity, no way they could miss killing Mallory.

They ask Raynor about it who changed it and he answers he thought the clear shooting looked better and was cheaper, a win win. They are interrupted when Sonny Miller arrives on set to replace Mallory and everyone seems overjoyed to have him.

They begin shootong the car chase scene and switch Miller out for the stuntman Mike. I can’t help but feel something bad will happen.

Everything is going great until the car won’t stop and Mike goes crashing down the hillside.

We are back from commercials (a really weird Raisin Bran one) and it turns out the brakeline was cut-Mike is dead. So was the killer after Mallory, Sonny Miller, Mike the stuntman, or trying to stop the picture?

Hmm…

So the last one seems the most likely and the Queens start looking at Pamela since she is the only one who wanted to get out of the picture. She insists she has no reason for sabotage as RKO is waiting to do the picture until she is finished here. The Inspector insists that it isn’t a real alibi as she could have done the cutting of the brake line before she got word from RKO. Pamela insists there is no way as she doesn’t know anything about cars.

Ellery points out to his aggravated father that both murders were filmed, so they actually have an advantage as the review them for clues.

Ellery watches them and sees something? What? We can’t find out until he has rounded up the suspects.

Lt. Smarmy Jerk (I can’t remember his name and don’t really care to look it up) thinks Pamela did it as her face is cold blooded in the film of her shooting. Raynor defends her as being an actress and the Lt. says she’s not that good. LOL, I was thinking the same thing. Since he thinks she did it we all know that which means she didn’t.

Scene 231 is the clue. Ellery lists off the suspects:

  • Pamela, the actress who wanted out of the picture
  • The man playing Inspector Queen who’s lines were stolen by Mallory, maybe with Mallory (and Miller) gone the movie could be about him.
  • Mrs. Mallory, her husband was cheating on her and she never liked this picture-wants to pull the plug
  • Director Michael Raynor, he hated Mallory and wanted a different actor but Mallory had too much money involved-why he would try and stall the picture is uncertain, maybe it is a smokescreen to get them to look elsewhere
  • The Publicist, Mallory was cruel to him and he promoted Mike the stuntman (which is a odd relationship) also trying to kill Mike as a smokescreen?
  • Al the SFX guy-he hated Mallory but doesn’t have a reason for Mike.

Ellery gathers everyone up and here we go…

Elleey acts out the original scene from his script, Ellery going to the window and through it. A stunt is involved in the original scene so there would have been a stunt double-the stuntman would have been shot at. Mike was always supposed to be shot, the killer was always after the stuntman.

I KNOW WHO IT IS! You guys remember back at brunch the stuntman kept trying to get the publicist to get him get the part. Their interaction was weird as a good stuntman can have some power, but nothing like what Mike seemed to hold over the publicist. He must have something on him to make him do that. Earlier when Ellery complained about not being made aware of the changes to his story, the publicist complained that he isn’t told anything either. That means that he didn’t know about the scene being changed from the window and set up a murder using the original story.

Another mystery solved!

The last film the publicist worked on the actress had a nervous breakdown and was doing drugs to get through. Her drug dealer was jailed but the publicist needed to keep her going. She died from an overdose and Mike knew he supplied her with the pills and threatened him with the police if he didn’t do what he wanted.

Ellery and his dad exit set to do some conventional Hollywood plans.

That was interesting and enjoyable. Although it did make me think of Diagnosis Murder  (although I think that father and son pair had a better relationship.) I might check out some of the other episodes in the future.

For more Vincent Price, go to To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved Before: The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985)

For more detectives, go to What are you? I’m Batman: Batman (1989)

For more mysteries, go to Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

For more that feature crime writers, go to The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)

For more TV episodes reviews, go to Who Kidnapped the Girls’ Soccer Stars?: North Mammon, Criminal Minds (2006)

A Psychic Arrives and a Ghost Haunts the Ship: High Seas Season Two (2019)

So last year my friend and I started watching Alta Mar/High Seas after watching the trailer as it looked really good. We were both thoroughly pleased as it was AMAZING and we couldn’t stop until we finished it.

The story is of two sisters, Eva and Carolina Villanueve. They lost their father, their home country of Spain was greatly changed because of WWII, and both ladies are looking for something new. Carolina had been running the family business, but decided to sell the company and is planning to marry Fernando Fábregas (owner of the ocean liner the Barbara de Braganza). Her sister Eva doesn’t like the changes Carolina is making but is still supporting her. She is also traveling on the Barbara de Braganza to Brazil to meet with a publisher interested in her book.

On our way!

They are on their way to the ship’s dock and hit a woman, a woman running away from an abusive man with powerful connections. Eva takes pity on her, ignores Carolina, and sneaks her aboard as a stowaway. However, this woman is not who she says she is and the sisters are in for quite the journey.

Someone is murdered on the ship, it turns out their uncle Pedro and family friend Dr. Rojas have some secret they are keeping from the girls, their stowaway vanishes, someone they thought was dead is alive, and more. All this while they are on a ship in the middle of the ocean-you can see how it makes for one fantastic season.

So even though I absolutely loved it, the end of season one left quite a few things unanswered. Who did Fernando need to meet at midnight the first night? Who were those people in the middle of the ocean from a distressed ship? The guy they arrested for the murder “committed suicide” but we know he didn’t as he didn’t kill the guy. So who murdered him? Why did Fernando lie about the wedding rings being stolen?

Hmm…

So when they came out with season two last December we were so jazzed to watch it, but that enjoyment faded as it stunk.

Ugh…

It was like someone decided to take everything people loved about the first season and then do the opposite.

***Spoilers***

So after the events of the first season the uncle is okay, (his brother attacked him in the throat), the father jailed, the stowaway jailed, the evil Doctor Rojas is jailed, and Fernando picks up a group from the distressed ship: one of the people rescued, Casandra Lenormand, says she is a psychic. Is she lying? Telling the truth? One thing is for sure, she will be trouble either way.

So to make this the easiest way I can, I’m going to take this person by person. We are going to start with Carolina (Alejandra Onieva). Carolina married at midnight to Fernando, who is still acting like a jerk and lying/hiding something very important from her. Things start going downhill immediately as strange things start happening to Carolina but only things she sees. For example, her clothes in a mess about the room, and later suddenly put away.  She sees a shadowy figure, but no one else does and it is gone. Is she going crazy? Or being gaslighted?

Going mad! From Possessed

Carolina is approached the psychic who just wants to help her.

I can’t believe this. Her inserting into Carolina’s life, her just happening to be there, her “helpfulness” that make Carolina worse, and her “friendship” causing her to separate from her sister and husband-this girl is no good.

It was interesting as Beth Moore talks about people like this in her study Breaking Free and her book The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. Like this followed everything she warned about.

Casandra uses her Ouija board, revealing the name Rosa Marin. There are ghost sightings and Carolina believes that the ghost is haunting her and the ship. Carolina doesn’t trust herself, she doesn’t trust to tell her sister, she doesn’t trust her husband-espechially after finding out he was involved with Rosa Marin. The only person she finds herself trusting is Casandra.

I don’t trust her.

Carolina starts suspecting that Fernando is the one that murdered Rosa Marin, the former owner of the ship. Casandra starts putting the moves on Carolina and Carolina finds herself confused-married to Fernando but now she is uncertain of their future and considering Casandra. But it turns out the psycho psychic is a fake.

Yes, just like I thought it turns out she is a liar and her the sister was Rosa Marin. She thought Carolina murdered her sister as Fernando and Rosa were involved and going to run off together. Casandra was making Carolina think she was going crazy as she thought she killed her sister to keep Raoul. But then, she fell for Carolina and decided that Fernando must be the killer.

I feel bad for poor Carolina as she is in such a horrible mental state as Casandra and her people have been driving her crazy, AND she discovers that her husband was cheating on her and planning on jilting her. She is like all levels of just what is going on. And instead of Carolina and Eva working on this together and trying to figure out what happened- Carolina spends zero time with her sister until the very end. The sisterly bonds was what I found so enjoyable about the first season, and they completely threw it out the window.

Seriously

So you think after all this Fernando would have Casandra locked up, you know due to the fact she contrived a way to get there (creating a mayday signal and claiming their ship sunk), was trying to drive Carolina insane, and frame Fernando for murder of her sister because she believes he is the killer, right? But no, even though Cassandra just did a huge Scooby-Doo plot and harassed Fernando, the ship’s owner, and his wife– she just gets to be on the ship and enjoy a jolly holiday. Why isn’t she imprisoned in her cabin? The sisters still have her help them! This is literally insane!

Who wrote this? Why would you trust her?

So let’s move on to Eva (Ivana Baquero) and Nicolás Vázquez (Jon Kortajarena). So in the previous season, Nicolás was trying to get Eva to go out with him as he fell for her right away. They spent the whole last season sleuthing and Nicolás became the captain when Capitán Santiago Aguirre had to be pulled from duty. Nicolás has had a sad life of being an orphan turned thief, to being found and saved by Capitán Santiago Aguirre, married, fought in WWII, wife taken as she was part of the resistance, and then she passed away in a concentration camp giving birth. He finally found happiness again with Eva.

Now I LOVED them together! The two were like Tommy and Tuppence, and the best part of the series. I loved their chemistry and interactions.

So as I mentioned, Eva and Nicolás are an item, and all of us are so happy for them. Well…except for the writers who decide that Nicolás’ wife is alive after being declared dead for years-yes and after all he did to find her and couldn’t, she somehow managed to find the ship he is on and get to Brazil, preparing to meet him when he arrives. To make things even worse, Nicolás receives the telegram right after he and Eva sleep together.

Nicolás still loves Eva and wants to help her as he worries about her with all the crazy shenanigans on the Barbara de Braganza but she won’t have anything to do with him as he is a married man. On one hand, I’m like good for her to avoid him as being with him is just setting herself up for heartbreak. But on the other hand, I hate these two being separated SOO much. So yeah, they spend hardly any time together.
Eva spends most of the season alone more than anything and trying to find where her father disappeared (he escaped from being imprisoned) and investigating whether Cassandra the psychic is who she says she is, and also not talking to her sister.

Then we have beautiful, sweet Clara (Laura Prats) the singer. In the last season she was raped by Aníbal de Souza and when she threatened to tell on him, he attacked her. His wife, Natalia Fábregas (Fernando’s sister) helped fight him off (as he didn’t treat her any better) and killed him on accident. Instead of notifying the doctor, the wife convinced her to hide it and help her move the body to make it look like he was drunk and fell.

Clara is suffering a lot from this trauma and the guilt and Natalia is a horrible human being who doesn’t help. The ship detective, Varela, who has bumbled around the first season doing nothing-finally has his brain cells work figures it out and starts blackmailing Natalia. Clara finally tells her boyfriend Pierre what happened and he wants to support her but doesn’t know how. I actually thought it was well done as he wants to help but is utterly clueless. Pierre leans on Natalia as he wants to protect Clara, and she tangles him in her web as she starts to desire him. She puts the moves on him, and poor traumatized, lost little Clara sees it and it pushes her over the edge-and she commits suicide.

You precious cinnamon roll! You were too good for this world! I’m crying!

So in the last season Sebastian de la Cuesta, a rich playboy and friend of Fernando, and Verónica de García, (daughter of the Villanueve sister’s maid and their maid as well), got involved. They were hiding it from her mother, she pretending to be with the boy her mother liked-Sebastian’s valet Dimas Gómez. I love Dimas, but Veronica doesn’t. She and Sebastian are getting more serious, but Sebastian has a secret-he has no money. Dimas has a plan to create ethanol and just needs financial backing. He went to Sebastian for help, but Sebastian stole it and showed it to another friend who double-crossed him. Sebastian tries to win it back in poker but loses the plans and his family castle.

He proposes to Veronica who refuses him, and ends up going off with Dimas. I actually didn’t want them together as I think Dimas deserved better. He’s like Fanny Price, the person they longed for is not worth it.

So whodunnit? In the end the killer was their housekeeper and surrogate mother, Francisca de García. She found out that Fernando was going to run off and she didn’t want Carolina hurt. She went to talk to Rosa, who was such a nasty horrid girl who only cared about herself and was rude to Francisca. Francisca snapped and killed her.

Oh yeah, and the stowaway is just running about and hugely pregnant-when did that happen?

The stowaway escapes with the Nazi gold from season one, Nicolás runs off to a woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat (that’s right we don’t even get to see her), and the Villanueve sisters and Fernando get in a car and drive away. This journey is over, but another will start…next year.

It was horrid and I hated it. I would rather just go back and watch the first season again.

Although, they have sucked me in with Nicolás and his wife. As soon as that last episode ended, I knew I would be watching the next season as I had to know if Nicolás and Eva got back together.

Tell ME!!!!!

The only thing that didn’t disappoint this season? The clothes! I love 1940s fashion and I want nearly EVERYTHING they own.

For more High Seas/Alta Mar, go to We’re Stranded on a Ship in the Middle of the Ocean with a Killer!: High Seas (2019)

For more ghosts, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more mysteries, go to Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

For more psychics, go to Every Twenty-Third Spring for Twenty Three Days, it Gets to Eat: Jeepers Creepers (2001)

 

 

Why Miss Fisher the Movie Flopped for Me: Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

Hey everybody, for this year we are doing something special: Sleuthing Sundays. Each Sunday I’ll post a film with a super sleuth! To start us off we have:

****Contains Spoilers****

So I watched this during the COVID-19 #shelterinplace with my friend for her birthday. As we couldn’t be together, we decided to each watch at the same time and then text each other our thoughts. It is hard enough trying to make plans and now we have more time, but can’t get together.

Ugh! It’s so unfair

Now I’m not a big Miss Fisher fan. I have watched the show but I don’t really like the content. The mysteries are okay-usually there isn’t a whole lot of detecting and the answer just comes at the end. I’m not a fan of the book series either as I read a couple before I watched the series and just couldn’t get into it.

What I do like about the series is the characters-that’s the only reason I kept watching them: Mr. Butler Dorothy “Dot” Williams, Constable Hugh Collins, Detective Inspector John “Jack” Robinson, Cec, Burt, etc.- and I like how they interact with each other and Miss Fisher.

So quick recap for those of you who haven’t watched the show. Miss Fisher (Essie Davis) grew up poor but after WWI inherited a distant relatives fortune and now has boundless dollars. She does whatever she wants in 1920s Australia, often being asked to look into mysteries or crimes that have happened. She has a best friend/companion/lady’s maid in Dot, fosters a young girl Jane, hires two taxi drivers to assist in her investigations (Cec and Burt), and is constantly helping out/being a thorn in the side of Detective Inspector John “Jack” Robinson and his Constable Hugh.

This film takes place after the final season, when we last saw the crew Phryne saved her father, Dot and Hugh married, and Phryne asks Jack to pursue her twice. So now that the recap is over-let’s move onto the mystery.

Mystery, you say?

So we start off the film with the opening lines of “agitators” and I totally thought it said alligators. My friend did too, not a good font choice.

So we start off with a figure-Miss Fisher-running through the streets of a Middle Eastern city. Oh no, her hijab caught on a stick, I hate when that happens, you know your clothes get caught on things.

The hijab is pulled off and we get to look at Miss Fisher’s dress- it sure is something, look at all those sequins. Miss Fisher always has fantastic clothes.

So while Miss Fisher is running through the streets, all I can wonder is, where is Dot?

Hmm…

Or why is Miss Fisher there?

Hmm…

And where is Detective Jack (Nathan Page)?

Where is everyone?

So Miss Fisher is searching for someone/something. Ew, she was scaling the wall and then put her gloved hand in hr mouth-gross. That wall is probably super dirty as I’m sure it has never been cleaned. 

So she is looking for a Shirin. Why is she looking for Shirin? How does she know her?

What the heck?

Police follow Miss Fisher in a car while she and Shirin are on a motorbike. Good thing cars didn’t go fast back then or else they would be easily caught. They ditch the bike and get on top of a train with Miss Fisher in her heels being able to manage that.

I hate when movies and book do that. The train is going through a tunnel and she isn’t going to make it! Fade to black. We then switch to Australia

Oh, no! Is that Dot crying? Aw, she’s pregnant, she and Hugo are having a baby!

How sweet!

This timeline feels off, but that happens when they make movies. So it turns out that Miss Fisher is presumed dead again, and they are holding a funeral in London. Hugh and Dot can’t go because she is so far along, but Jack journeys to it.

The funeral starts, and Aunt Prudence doesn’t sit on a regular chair but has to have an armchair. She has to have the best of the best.

So the funeral is interrupted by a plane overhead, and it is so obvious that it is Miss Fisher. So now that we know she is crashing her funeral, who are all these other people?

I mean for real!

I mean right away I know that one guy is Rupert Penry-Jones, you know Captain Wentworth, but who is he in the film?

I looked him up and his character is Jonathan Lofthouse, but who is he to Phryne, they never say in the film-although the flirt a lot so we know he isn’t a close relation.

Hmm…

Oh no, poor Jack. He won’t be happy, I’m surprised he hasn’t had a heart attack with how many times Phryne has “died”. Oh..his face might get stuck in that expression.

Phryne: Why are you so angry?

Really? Really? And you just kissing everyone like it’s no big deal. Ohmygosh! I wanted to slap some sense into her. Don’t you know how that would make Jack feel? And then she is all tell me what you wrote in your eulogy and he’s all it says I’m done with you. And she is offended? Really?

You know why he is angry and you are being so caviler with his feelings. He believed you dead! Phryne ca be fun, but in this she is kind of a jerk-especially the way she flirts in front of him with all these other guys in front of him. Like this guy wanted to marry you, he LOVES you and you don’t care one iota for his feelings.

And who are these people? Especially the guy she keeps kissing-Jonathan? Like why does she know them why are they at the funeral?

Hmm…what’s going on?

Jonathan and his older brother are fencing while taking about the war and those two have serious issues. They also are talking a bit about what happened in WWI, but there is a whole angry subtext going on underneath.

So the Sheikh is Shirin’s uncle and he and Eleanor, the wife of Jonathan’s brother seem too close.

Hmmm…

So Sheikh Kahlil Abbas, Jonathan, and his brother-I guess I should look his name up…let’s see Lord “Lofty” Lofthouse. Seriously? Who came up with that name? Anyways…They have some business plan that they are doing-something that needs to go through or else the Lofthouses will lose everything as Lofty sucks at keeping the finances together.

I’m pretty over it and are focusing on more important things. When is Jack coming back? If he has just a cameo I am going to be very disappointed.

We need more Jack!

Hmm…is this sheik a good or bad guy? They seem to be setting him up to have a secret of some kind but is it a red herring or foreshadowing?

Seriously

I really miss Mr. Butler the Butler. He was awesome. This butler is super creepy and weird. He slinks around and freaks me out.

Shirin Abbas gets a note from someone saying he is a friend of Shirin and has information regarding the death of her family. When she was little her whole tribe was killed in a sandstorm. She remembers someone slaughtering everyone and sparing her-but the English government has gone with the sandstorm story and jailed her for stirring things up (that’s why Phryne had to save her). Phryne doesn’t want her to go, but decides to take her place.

Phryne goes to see Jack to assist her who is staying at a pretty crappy hotel, I mean the door is pretty see-through. Jeez Phryne, you could have offered him a room at the mansion you are staying at Phryne.

I mean for real!

Jack is also made because Phryne got married! WHAT????

So she didn’t want to marry Jack as she “wasn’t ready” but then went and married some other guy?

This girl!

They go to the meeting place, a church, which is pretty deserted. If this was me I’d want my back to the wall as it is the perfect point to assassinate someone.

Phryne finds the friend who looks crazy and possibly drugged. He speaks of demons.

So with the WWI talk, the Sheikh, the English government controlling the country, and most likely the massacre of the tribe- here are my theories:

A) Maybe this guy was one of the English troops (best guess from all that was said earlier and how they mentioned the sheik is now indebted to the government) sent to kill the tribe but spared her a she was a toddler.

B) Maybe the sheikh isn’t really the sheikh but they murdered the tribe to hide the fact that they were placing someone else in who would allow them to takeover the country. The solider spared the girl because she was so young and she had never met her uncle before so she wouldn’t be able to tell if he is or isn’t the real sheikh.

He gets shot, TOLD YOU! Perfect place for an assassination, but passes on an emerald amulet . They call the police who are incredibly rude to Jack, and he holds their passport and Jack is upset that he can’t return to Australia. Phryne is mad at him, but geez-Jack has a real job and is not rich like you. Remember he took off time for your funeral.

I mean for real!

Like you grew up poor, you think you would remember parts of what it was like.

They go to meet Phryne’s friend who is involved with art and antiquities, she had run into him on her earlier escapades, and he goes upstairs to look for something He takes a really long time and they hear a noise. Phryne follows as she is all Danger? Where? Let me at it! She doesn’t even want Jack to go with her.

Such a man!

So that guy is safe, but another one comes in and then a fire, wow it went 0-6 real fast.

Phryne runs after the thief but doesn’t shoot at him and he disappears in the fog. Well you should’ve hit him in the leg or something.

Jack saves the amulet and Phryne and him get really close when the firefighters come. They are like oh yeah, there is a fire.

They show the necklace to Shirin who remembers it. She has a flashback to her mom holding it. I think it might be a key as the way it is shaped, it could fit into something. My friend also pointed out it is a triangle-just like her tattoo.

Supposedly, there is a tomb and they were supposed to protect it I’m guessing. Th necklace MUST be a key. They also find a compass. Hmm, maybe it is supposed to be like in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark and they need it to find the crypt of tears.

Hmm…treasure?

The Lofthouses and the Sheikh were involved in what looks like a shady business deal. Hmm…thought so.

Phryne wears a sweater with a big “PF” on it. Wow, I have no words.

Wow…

So the Sheikh wants Shirin to forget all about the past and focus on London and the ball they are throwing her. I can’t hep but think that it is a huge deal to accept her so she should be happier, but when she leaves the Sheik, he seems to be thinking about it. Is he planning something bad or helpful?

Hmmm…

Shirin tells Phryne about the past and says it was three men who destroyed the village-I would have thought they would need more to destroy a whole village.

I think the Sheikh is somehow involved and that the men forced the mother to open to the tomb.

Hmm…

That night at the party Jack looks good in his fancy duds.

That evening the Sheikh fights with the Lofthouses, not wanting to agree to the deal anymore. Maybe he isn’t involved. Hmm….

Hmm…

Everyone is shouting secrets at this party, like shouting. The extra in a yellow dress and gold jacket was like oops, heard all of that. Mr. Lofthouse and the Sheikh are causing a scene as well.

All I can think is, why did Phryne marry that other guy. They better tell us, and soon.

This is like the worst party ever, at least no one died…but just wait…Oh no a gunshot! There it is.

The cop on the scene is pretty sharp putting things together. When it comes to alibis Jonathan tries to protect his brother (or him), by saying they were together, but the butler says no he and Jonathan were together. Wow really threw the older brother under the bus. Hmm…we know that Jonathon wasn’t with his brother, so why would he lie?

Hmm…

Maybe the butler doesn’t like the Lord of the manner, but then again who does?

So the Sheikh is the one who is dead and Phryne sets off to investigate his room. She looks in a vase and finds a ginourmous emerald. Why would you have an emerald that big and hide it out in a tomb in the desert. Why wouldn’t you take that to your palace?

I mean for real!

So Alexander the Great curses the emerald that whoever takes it death will follow. How come he had those powers? Where did they come from? I wish I had powers like that. I’d be cursing all kinds of objects.

Phryne decides to leave for the Middle East and the tomb and Jack wants to go with her but sorry only two fit in the plane and she’s taking Shirin. Ouch.

Jonathan going to come too and fly Jack, but how can they do that when Scotland Yard had their passports?

So they end up in the Middle East and the guide they hire is really shady. He has a big rifle and is all that’s for hunting. What do you hunt in the middle of a sandy desert?

Hmm…

Obviously he is lying, but why? Who put him up to it? Who is behind this all. The Sheik died so that leaves us with Lofty, Jonathan, Lady Eleanor, and the butler. There is no others they introduced unless Shirin is secretly a child mass murderer. They wouldn’t…would they? Nah!

Hmm…

I think Jonathan might be the one in on it, why else would he leave his brother behind if he wants to “help” him so bad. That seems weird.

Hmmm…

Phryne of course looks glamourous in the hot desert and is all made up. She seduces the guide so they can overpower him and get the truth. Someone paid him to delay him. Who? Who? The guide doesn’t know.

Such a man!

She and Jack fight and he brings up her husband, at least we will get the truth about her husband, the Maharajah…but no Jack storms off and Phryne follows him falling into quicksand? Okay…whatever.

It turns out that the Maharajah is gay and there were rumors and he was going to be killed so to stop them Phryne married him but doesn’t live with him. Like how does that make sense at all? He could’ve married anyone and how does the wife not living with him keep people from thinking he was gay?

I mean he’s royal! He could command anyone to marry him. And most royal marriages married for an alliance and to produce heirs or for wealth, not love. It makes more sense for him to marry a royal woman to have a child and then continue with his life and what he is doing. This is the stupidest thing ever. What royal parents or people would want their maharajah to marry some Australian woman who doesn’t even live in the country. This is incredibly dumb and just a plot device to keep Phryne and Jack apart.

So the tattoo does help lead the way and they find the tomb. So Jonathan is being really strange, and I am hardcore believing it is Jonathan right now.

They get i the tomb and find Alexander’s desert bride, the first time we heard that one.

What??

Watch out she might come alive like in The Mummy.

They find a knife with initials on it and I know it will be JL, for Jonathan Lofthouse as he is weird.

So he wanted to return the emerald as his troop came and slaughtered the tribe for it. He felt guilty and after the Sheikh died hid it in the room as he knew Phryne would find it and return it. Okay I feel like you could have handled this a lot better in a completely different way. It seems really convoluted.

Or plot!

But he says he did’t kill the sheikh? If Jonathan didn’t do it, then who did?

Hmm…

It turns out the butler is there in the tomb and he did it. Yes the butler did it.

Yes the butler did, but why? It doesn’t make sense? And how could he afford to get there or know where to even find this secret tomb. This whole thing makes no sense.

This doesn’t make sense!

But Phryne knows, it is because he is secretly Jonathan’s father?

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What?

HUH???!!!

How did she know? Where were the clues? I mean he liked Jonathan better than his older brother, but just because Mr. Carson liked Mary better than the other girls I never suspected that he was secretly her father.

How did the butler not only get the money and knowledge to travel to the middle of nowhere, but how did he beat them?

What??

The butler is going to kill them, but Jonathan saves them as the tomb collapses-all make it out but those two. Phyrne and Jack are now alone in the desert, what happened to Shirin? And they end up sleeping together which I don’t like as Phryne was a GIANT jerk to him in this and Jack was so moral and wanted to marry Phryne not just be another guy she sleeps with.

As they are traveling a man comes from nowhere with a message that Phryne’s husband is dead and they need her to solve the crime. How, what, why?

So this film didn’t work for me. First of all Miss Fisher works because of the contrast between her and all the other characters-so removing her from them didn’t work at all.

Second, Detective Jack Robinson didn’t really work in this scenario either. In Australia, he is in a position of power, he can get information, he has a role-going to England and the Middle East doesn’t work for him. He has no power, he can’t do anything, he has no role to play but follow Phryne around.

And third, Phyrne is completely callous and rude in this. Like she does her own thing, and is light and airy-but she never is cruel like this.

Fourth-this story sucks. Like what were they thinking-this plot is everywhere. They should have thought smaller, kept it in Australia, and created better mystery. Like where were the clues? Everything just felt so out of left field. And what was up with this mythology of Alexander the Great?

For more female private detectives, go to Those Men Are Not Going to Stand for Nancy Drew Poking Her Little Nose Into Their Affairs: Nancy Drew, Detective (1938)

For more detectives, go to What are you? I’m Batman: Batman (1989)

For more mysteries, go to The Last Puzzle: The Last Christmas, Shadow Island Mysteries (2010)

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair)

The Matters at Mansfield (Or, The Crawford Affair) [Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery #4) by Carrie Bebris

So this is the fourth book in this Jane Austen mystery series. I have an…interesting relationship with this series. You know I love mysteries, so when I first came across this I was so excited! Jane Austen mysteries?!!!!!

Mystery, you say?

So I read the first book Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) and loved it!

It was a fantastic mystery that left you wondering, was something supernatural going on? Or was Caroline Bingley’s new husband gaslighting her?

The next book, however, left me extremely disappointed.

Suspense and Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited) right away told you it was going to be the supernatural taking all the suspense out of it. Also the Dashwood sisters were hardly in the book, which strongly disappointed me.

I then decided to take a break, and went on reading and reviewing other things.

After a break I decided to read the third book North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley) as I plan to review a mystery every month (to stay in theme for the year) and because it has Northanger Abbey in it. It was good, but it really didn’t have as much Northanger Abbey stuff in it as there should have been.

I want MORE Northanger Abbey!

I liked the book, but was disappointed that there was hardly any Mr. Tilney in it and zero Catherine Morland. Extremely disappointing, but the rest of the book was good.

Hmm…

So now on to this one. My excitement for this was also high as I was excited to see Mansfield Park in something as it literally gets no love.

So one thing that happened in this book that is very different from the others is that there is no supernatural elements in it at all. The first book had a woman possibly going crazy/being mind controlled, the second a mirror with the evil spirit of the Dashwood’s great-great grandfather who possesses his great-great-grandson. The third we had the benevolent spirit of Mr. Darcy’s mother aiding Elizabeth through her pregnancy. In this, there is nothing.

So we start the book off with a Elizabeth and Darcy staying with Roger Fitzwilliam, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother and the earl (you know the one that inherited everything making it impossible to marry someone without money). Lady Catherine is there with Anne as well. So remember in the last book…maybe not…quick review. So Darcy and Elizabeth were in Bath to meet with this super special doctor, who was a total jerk.

This dude, ugh!

There they received a note to visit with Captain Tilney, Mr. Henry Tilney’s older brother to visit and got caught up in a robbery of a dead man. No, it really tuned out that the man they thought was Captain Tilney was actually pretending to b him as the real Captain Tilney died a day earlier. The only one who could help them was Lady Catherine, so she traveled with them to Pemberley leaving Anne in Bath, with her companion.

She’s free!

Back in present time, Elizabeth was feeding her daughter early one morning when she runs into Anne. Elizabeth’s surprised to see her up so early, but Anne tells her she wants time to herself and Elizabeth understands-its hard to go from the freedom of Bath to then be back with your controlling mother, Lady Catherine.

The next day at the ball Elizabeth manages to get Darcy to distract Lady Catherine so that Anne can dance. She dances with her cousin Col. Fitzwiliam, who has always liked her. OMG, what if they were to get together! That would be great! Look at me, matching up people like Emma.

They also meet a Mr. Crawford, one of the people who dances with Anne. We know Mr. Crawford.

Just in case you haven’t read or seen the film, in Mansfield Park Mr. Crawford is an immoral man raised by his uncle. His biggest hobby is to seduce women, he likes them falling in love with him.

He and his sister Mary go to visit their half-sister and intersect with the Bertram family at Mansfield Park. He starts to seduce Maria Bertram who is engaged, with no plan of follow through, but it hooks her. Later he starts to fall for Maria’s cousin Fanny, trying to woo her, but when he returns to London he runs off with her.

He’s a bad boy

Time has passed, so he is free from scandal-Just like the Count in Anna Karenina. It’s really not fair that he didn’t get something worse.

Mr. Crawford asks Anne to dance with him, but she refuses. Elizabeth tries to get her to take him up on his offer but she goes upstairs and to bed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Darcy has found out that Lady Catherine wants to have an engagement between Anne and Lord Sennex’s son, Neville (a horrible man with am extremely awful and abusive temper.)

That night they retire and Elizabeth finds a note from Anne, but decides to wait until morning to read it.

Oh no, that’s important-you should read it now!

The next day Lady Catherine starts an uproar when Anne is found missing. She doesn’t want Lord Sennex to know as she hopes that she can get her in time for Anne to marry his son. They search everywhere for her but cannot find her. Lady Catherine latches onto Anne’s letter to Elizabeth and in there it is revealed that she decided to follow Elizabeth’s advice and run off with Mr. Crawford.

Oops! She misconstrued Elizabeth encouraging her to dance with her encouraging her to run off and elope.

Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy run off to follow them hoping that they can reach them before they are wed at Gretna Greene. Oh, poor Darcy this is the third elopement he has tried to stop. Lady Catherine is furious beyond furious and blames Elizabeth 100%.

The two men follow and Colonel Fitzwilliam seems extra invested? OhMyGOONESS! Maybe he was in love with Anne but never did anything about it because he thought she was going to marry Darcy, and let’s face it Lady Catherin would never pick him even if he is a Fitzwilliam. Thinking back he did seem awfully eager to dance with her?! Hmmm…

Hmm…

They reach Gretna Greene and are too late, Anne is already Mrs. Crawford.

Darcy kind of starts to lecture her but she rips him a new one when she shares how she feels! Her whole life her mother has been telling everyone they would wed and chasing all suitors always and then he up and married some other girl and she is just growing older. Ouch, I feel bad. I had never thought about Anne’s predicament.

Darcy and the Colonel try to warn her that Mr. Crawford could be a gold digger but she tells him she has seen plenty of those and knows Crawford isn’t one. She is extremely upset that she has to marry the cruel Neville Sennex and saw this as the only way out. The men are resigned and start to take her home, but unfortunately the wheel of the carriage breaks Anne injures her leg, and their are stuck by Mansfield Park.

So will we see Fanny and Edmund and the whole gang?

No.

A few Mansfield Park characters have brief moments but they aren’t really even in the story. This was the problem I had with the other books. Why bother to bring in the other titles and stories if you aren’t going to use them?

I mean, you could set this anywhere else and just add new characters, like the Sennexs. But instead Bbris gets my hopes up making it sound like we will see all the gang and we don’t, and that really upsets me. Why do this? Just to get my hopes up?

So Lady Catherine is angry and wants to make sure that Anne’s inheritance will stay controlled by her and she sends for her lawyer and he, Lady Catherine, and Elizabeth all travel to Mansfield Park.

When all arrive they discover that Henry Crawford has a very bad reputation. They hear the whole story of how he ran off with Maria Bertram Rushworth and how he had proposed to Fanny Price Bertram.

Anne starts to regret her decision, especially after his other wife comes to town.

It turns out years ago he pretended he was just a sailor and got involved with this girl Meg and then left. He sent her money, but after a fire burned the farm and the death of her only family member she goes to find her husband, the only clue being a jewelry box that leads her right to Mansfield Park.

So now who is really married to Mr. Crawford? They call the magistrate who is of course Edmund Bertram speaking on behalf of his father and it is a real sticky wicket. Mr. Crawford married Meg first, but under a false name, but one he was well known so a good lawyer could say that it was legal. And then there is Anne who married him under his legal name. This sound like a Poldark or Mary Balogh novel.

To make things even worse Mr. Rushworth and his mother, along with Maria Bertram Rushworth and her Aunt Norris, all converge on Mansfield Park to speak to Henry and give him a piece of their minds-ALONG with Lord and Neville Sennex (who happens to be friends with Tom Bertram and stays over at Mansfield Park).

Elizabeth and Darcy remark that things would be a lot easier if he was dead…

So I’m sure you all saw what was coming next. He escaped on his horse and there is a search party out for him. They finally discover his dead body.

At first the Bertrams want to declare it a suicide but after Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam look it over they discover he was murdered.

So who did it? Was Anne angry that she may not be legally wed, but also that she has lost all standing in society? Was it Lady Catherine upset that first this man upset her plans and then that he embarrassed the de Bourg line? Could it be Mr. Bertram, Tom, or Edmund…wait not Edmund as he is a minister, Sir Bertram or Tom avenging the humiliation of their sister? Mr. Rushworth out to get revenge for Mr. Crawford sleeping with his wife!? His mother for embarrassing the Rushworths? Maria, angry that he remarried and is in society while she is doomed to be an outcast forever? Aunt Norris, furious that someone hurt her favorite girl? Meg, the first Crawford wife, furious that he lied and abandoned her? Colonel Fitzwilliam maybe trying to get rid of the competition? Lord Sennex or Neville for the embarrassment? Mr. Darcy…haha yeah right it isn’t him or Elizabeth.

We’ll never know.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are on the case to figure out who and why and get themselves and their family out of this entanglement in order to return home.

But then it is discovered that Henry Crawford isn’t really dead. Well then, who was murdered? And if Mr. Crawford didn’t die was he the intended victim or the murderer?

Hmm…

To further complicate things it turns out that Mr. Crawford has some sort of amnesia and thinks he is a sailer named John married to Meg (the first wife and first wife connection).

It turns out that the person is after Henry Crawford as he is murdered, then Neville is killed, and Colonel Fitzwilliam declare his love for Anne- the Darcys need to find the truth before whoever it is is planning on striking again.

So the mystery was really good, and the double identity and then Crawford turning out not to be dead really threw me for a loop. I had to read to the end.

Tell ME!!!!!

The mystery and the characters were really enjoyable, my only compliant was that I wish it involved more of the Mansfield Park characters. I want to see Fanny, Tom, and William Price.

From Mansfield Park Opera

For more by Carrie Bebris, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

For more on Mansfield Park, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more Pride & Prejudice variations, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Mansfield Park variations, go to Modesto Jane Con: Opera Modesto Presents Mansfield Park

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Interference: Friday Night Lights Meets Emma

Miss Marple and Jane Austen: You Can See Human Nature From Anywhere in a Small Village

So today marks the birthday of a very important writer:

I first was introduced to Agatha Christie when my nana noticed me reading Sherlock Holmes. As she was a lover of mysteries herself, she gave me a few Agatha Christie novels and then that was it, I was an utter fangirl.

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors. She revolutionized the way mysteries are written, and created a wonderful collection of characters. Not only are her plots amazing, but I like how she presents all the information to you that she gives her detective characters, putting the two of you on equal footing, although, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot tend to always be smarter.

This year I have been honoring her and her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, turning 100-by reviewing a mystery every month. But as I was rereading The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems and it got me thinking about some similarities to Jane Austen.

What??

I know you are probably confused, but hear me out.

Mystery, you say?

So one of Agatha Christie’s detectives is Miss Marple. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster aunt, always watching and observing. People overlook her because of her age, her inexperience (she has lived in a small village), but she is extremely intelligent and has amazing powers of deductions.

When asked how she knows and can figure these things out, she always remarks it is because of her village life. She shares that being in the village she has learned a lot about human nature, and as people are alike all over there is always someone from “back home” that reminds her of others and the clue that reveals the ending-the solution.

In a lot of her books, not just Miss Marple, we see how the characters, their motives, their reasons for why they do what they do are relatable-often many characters you find yourself sympathetic. Agatha Christie knew how to write people so that you connect to them.

Reading that made me think of Jane Austen immediately. Here is a woman who spent a majority of her life in a small village, but yet with what most people would say are limited experiences and a lack of human knowledge-she was still able to write characters that are relatable to people all over the world, 200 years later.

I mean that is one thing I love about her books, how the stories and characters transcend Regency England so that the motifs, personalities, and points raised in her books are still relevant today. Who hasn’t meet a social climber like Caroline Bingley? A schemer like Lucy Steele?  Manipulators like Isabella and John Thorpe? Had a regret like Anne Elliot? Met a flirt like Henry Crawford? Known a person who wanted so badly to have a friend they did whatever someone asked of them like Harriet Smith? Haven’t we all been accused of being an ice queen like Elinor Dashwood? Let our heart rule our actions like Marianne Dashwood? Misjudged someone and actively disliked a person when they insulted you like Elizabeth Bennet? Had to make a choice whether to stick to what we believe in, even if it meant losing something you hold dear like Fanny Price? Disliked someone because they were better than you at some things like Emma Woodhouse? Let our imagination run away with us like Catherine Morland? Lost someone we love like Anne Elliot?

I mean it is just so easy to connect to her work.

If you haven’t read Agatha Christie, I definitely recommend checking her works out, and of course:

For more Agatha Christie, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more Jane Austen, go to The History of England By a Partial Prejudiced and Ignorant Historian or is Jane Austen a Precursor to Drunk History?

For more comparison posts, go to You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Cat Burglar Black

I was reorganizing the library’s young adult graphic novels and came across this book. It has a gothic and spooky old house, a secret society, a mysteriously hidden treasure, and teens being trained to be a part of a thieving ring.

Of course it sounded right up my alley.

And not just perfect for me, but for someone else…Catherine Morland. Yep, another book for Catherine Morland’s Reading List.

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, (and I still do), I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

We start off with Katherine “K” Westree dressed in all black with a mask, running at night from a wild boar.

We then go back three weeks earlier…K is a orphan who was placed in an orphanage run by a woman called Mother Claude, who was using the orphanage to create a ring of cat burglars, thieves, and pickpockets.

She forced the kids to do it, threatening and abusing them if they didn’t. If they tried to run away, she would hunt them down and force them back.

The were eventually found out and all the children sent to reform school. After K served her time she stayed on as a live-in counselor for the younger children. She was then located by her aunt who had been searching for her, and her aunt invited her to live with her at Bellsong Academy, a spooky gothic mansion.

Haunted house!

When she arrives at the Academy things are not as she expected. Apparently the school has lost funding and there are only three students there at this time, orphans who have nowhere else to go: Dory, Morrow and Zel. And it turns out that she can’t see her aunt as she is deathly ill and fully covered in bandages.

Now this made my radar go off. Anytime people are all covered up in bandages like that, it means they aren’t who they really say they are. That’s not her aunt, something must have happened to her.

Hmm…

The people running the academy are  the headmistress Mrs. Turtledove, teacher Dr. Kuvac, teacher Mr. Dell, and teacher Mr. Fahr. There also is a very creepy handyman who goes by Stump and the housekeeper Ms. Mund.

Everything seems off with the other girls and the faculty. And then K hears a voice in the wall warning her that she is being watched. Definitely creepy!

SUPER creeped

That night K sneaks out of her room ad uses all her training to try to get in her Aunt’s room, but is caught by the other girls as they have been watching her. It turns out the school is another thief ring,  but an “old, established” one called The Obtainers. Her mother and father were a part of it, and her aunt as well.

K’s father chose to leave the group when she was little and took K with him, that’s why she was never a part of it until now. The rest of the ring are glad she is here as she is incredibly talented and they need her help. Bellsong Academy originally belonged to the Quinn family. When Anodyne Quinn inherited the house she discovered that her family fortune came from pirating, she was deeply ashamed she had been benefiting from stealing from others. She decided to give back by opening the Bellsong Academy, the first woman’s college west of the Rockies. After she passed she left provisions so that it would continue on. There is a rumor of treasure hidden somewhere on campus and no on has ever found it.

Hmm…treasure?

The other thing she left behind was three paintings-one in her youth, one in middle age, and the third as an older woman posing with the graduation class. Each painting was given to a separate family in the neighboring village, they were given a large sum every year-and all they have to do is put their painting on display. The map to the treasure is rumored to be found within those three paintings.

Rebecca (1940)

K finds this extremely odd that they need her to “borrow” them, and I agree. Like if they are this all important and amazing league of thieves why haven’t they done it already?

I mean for real!

K isn’t interested but they insist they need it to keep the academy going and to pay for her aunt’s care. The other girls try to convince her as they give her the grand tour of the property-old time fountains, a sun dial, a “haunted cabin”, a prehistoric sinkhole, and share the stories of the serial killer, “The Moon Killer”, who was rumored to run around the woods.

Spooky…

K decides to train with them, as why not what else has she to do, and they have a practice room right out of a superhero comic. K outshines them all and that night joins them as they break into the first house.

Each house is eccentric and when they leave they are missing a girl. Did they decide to take off and get their freedom? Were they captured? Is The Moon Killer back? Is there something nefarious going on in those houses?

Hmm…

K manages to score every painting and starts putting the clues together. But finding hidden treasure isn’t the only surprise she will discover.

This was really interesting mystery/gothic tale and I liked the character K and the twist ending at the end. I had figured out half of it, but the other half surprised me.

Wow!

The only thing I don’t like is that we never find out what happened to the other girls. I searched but it doesn’t appear that Sala wrote a sequel. I guess it will be an unsolved mystery.

We’ll never know.

I really enjoyed the the style of it too, it has an Edward Gorey feel to it, and I just love Edward Gorey. I recommend reading it even if it has a few loose ends.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Poison Diaries

For more mysteries, go to Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

For more Gothic fiction, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

Creepy Demon Mask & Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horrors!

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the first package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road. The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him. The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness. He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Then in the second package, the house is sold to Dr. Elliot, a physician who likes to experiment on himself with his tinctures.

He has a strange patient, Beth Siggers (could it be ElizaBeth Griggs?) who acts off in his home. He also starts seeing something in his mirror. He died from overdose…or murder?

Hmm…

Then the house was bought by magician’s assistant, Héléne Ashworth and her magician husband The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear. They found out about it from her friend, Lilibeth. Helene loves the house, espechially the conservatory as she can grow all her plants. But then strange things happen-other plants are being planted, she starts having trouble remembering, she feels a presence in the house, and she thinks she sees something. She starts searching and dies of fright…or was she murdered?

Hmm…

So now for the third package.

This didn’t come with too many things:

  • A wooden box that says Elise Face Cosmetiques (the company Héléne Ashworth ordered her stage makeup from)
  • A demon mask
  • An article “Haunted Hampstead Heath House of Horror!” from Grime News
  • A letter from Elizabeth Griggs
  • A “bloody” hatpin
  • Three photographs
  • The blueprints to Griggs’ Estate

So when I got this package the first thing I had to look at was what was in the box-the big thing under the letter and photographs. It was this big, creepy, demon mask thing.

Since then I have put it back in its box as I have no clue what to do with it. It is teriffying.

SUPER creeped

Like 1/4 of me wanted to put it on, but the other 3/4 was terrified that if I did my face would change like in that one Twilight Zone episode, “The Masks”.

So creepy. Put it back in the box!

The letter is from Elizabeth Griggs written to her dead father July 29, 1897

Elizabeth Griggs has finally come into her inheritance and has purchased the one thing she has always wanted, the Griggs Estate. It turns out my suspicions were right! She admits that she created these other personas-Beth Spriggs, Lilibet, the “psychic” Mrs. Alizbeta Divak to protect herself. Now Elizabeth is finally herself and has her home.

Elizabeth shares that she was the one who saw the goblin first and received a letter from it, but her father figured out the clues to decoding it. (So the thing must have already been there-the thing that possessed her father.)

Elizabeth loves being in the house although there were a ton of changes made to it after she was sent to the orphanage and she enjoys every minute of rediscovering “her old friend”.

Haunted house!

The newspaper is an article about another murder in the Griggs estate. It was published September 13, 1987.

Last month London was scandalized by two mysterious and bloody deaths, Miss Elizabeth Griggs (24) was putting on her evening dress when a hideous man in a devilish mask and tattered nightshirt came crashing through the mirror.

Elizabeth had been in the middle of setting her hat and instinctively took the hatpin (that’s where the hatpin comes from!!!) and stabbed him in the throat, but even though she attacked him his body falling forward caused her to crash into the fireplace mantle and she died.

As Henry Griggs lay dying he croaked out “Lizzy! It is you!” (So I Was right, he was hiding in the house all along.)

But even though the two are dead and gone there are still some strange noises, banging, ghastly cries, etc. (It lives!)

Ghosts? Demons?

The blueprints are fascinating as the estate is huge with all kinds of secret hatches and passageways, and the secret language I need to decode.

Wow!

The first photograph is of a man in the mask I now own-Henry Griggs. With more secret writing on the back.

Hmm…what does it say?

The second is of a man dead in a car-the doctor, Dr Elliot! On the back it says:

“His last dose

Friday, February, 12 1892”

The third photograph is of a woman on the bed and a figure in the mirror. But if Griggs is taking the photograph-who’s in the mirror?

On the back it says:
She’ll snoop no more

Monday, January 18, 1897″

It’s Héléne, oh poor Héléne.

Okay, so at this point it is time to decode these messages. I must know the truth!

Mystery, you say?

I just spent three hours decoding this when I realize I did’t read all of Elizabeth’s letter. She has the decoder on the back! Ugh.

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!!!!

I feel so dumb-no I feel like Julie when she didn’t read all the instructions in Jumanji. 

Well at least I feel like an awesome decoder person.

DECODING

So I put the quote of what came before the secret message, and then under in bold the decoded message.

PACKAGE ONE

Forfeiture Notice

“This property was transferred to City Bank, Threadneedle Street, Corner of Finch Lane to be liquidated forthwith.”

YOU CANNOT TAKE ONE AND NOT THE OTHER

Orphanage Records

NO. 324   Surname: Griggs   Christian Name: Elizabeth  Age: 7

School Attendance: Yes

Pecuniary Circumstances: Inheritance  £250 donated as Fees

Date of Admittance: May 1881 Remarks: Trunk, Impertinent

SHE IS SAFE NOW IT CANNOT GET HER

Photograph of Elizabeth and her Father

“Last Day Together”

LAST DAY FOR THIS FACE (That must be referring to Mr. Griggs as he must have started wearing the mask after this.)

PACKAGE TWO

Deed of Land

“Received in full satisfaction by John W. Peterborough, City Bank Partner from Dr. W. Elliot Fifth day of November in the year of our Lord 1888 does give, grant, bargain, sell, and confirm the property of house, gardens, and environs of the entity of Lot 27 East Heath Road, Hampstead Heath, London, United Kingdom—unto the said Dr. Elliot.”

MY HOUSE, NONE OTHER WILL KEEP IT LONG (Uh, oh-that is not good.)

Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide

Extreme Desespoir Eufferfte Verzweifftung

HAVE I SEEN THIS FACE IN THE MIRROR?

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

I SEE MYSELF EVERYWHERE

Dr. Elliot’s Tincture

You’ve got the right bottle, Doctor.

SWITCHED THEM (Oh, no! That’s how the doctor died!)

Arsenic Poison

Are You Sure?

DONE

Elise Cosmetiques Label

You think to hide yourself from me?

THEIR LAST PERFORMANCE WILL BE MY GREATEST WORK (He must be talking about when he storms in their psychic reading and scares everyone.)

PACKAGE THREE

Griggs’ Estate Blueprints

There are a huge message and then a bunch of little ones. The big message:

THIS HOUSE TOOK MY WIFE, IT TOOK MY DAUGHTER, IT ENTRAPPED MY SOUL. WILL IT EVER LET ME REST?

Now to start with the rooms

Conservatory

PLUCK THEM OUT. POISON 

Kitchen

THEY ENCROACH LIKE WEEDS

Dining

INTERLOPERS

Bed room

I AM WATCHING

Hallway/stairs

MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE 

Secret Room in Library

WHO IS THE ARCHITECT OF THIS MADNESS

Bedroom

NO ROOM

Bedroom

IN THE WALLS, UNDER THE FLOOR, IN THE BETWEEN, BETWEEN THE SOUL AND THE STAIRCASE

Sunroom

THEY MUST NEVER FIND

Another Secret Room

SANCTUARY

Reading Room

DRIVE THEM OUT 

The photograph of Henry Griggs

WHY DO THEY COME

You must act, again

I’VE WATCHED THEM ALL COME AND MADE THEM ALL GO

You have done well.

AM I A GHOST

Only you know what you are

I HAVE MADE MY OWN FACE

You are what you have become

AM I DANGEROUS

Dangerous? Oh Yes

I AM GRIGGS THE GRINNING GOBLIN THE LOATHSOME FIEND THE GRUESOME PHANTOM YOU AND I ARE ONE

Always

THE ONE WHO COMES AND GOES IS IT MY DAUGHTER

She is the last

IF HER FACE LIES SHE WILL DIE LIKE THE REST

One way or the other, I will be free

And it is time to bring out the Demon mask again, *shudders*.

THEY SEE ME THROUGH YOU

If I was a Winchester I know what I would do with all this stuff:

Salt and burn it

But I on the hand will keep everything, because they are cool. Except for the demon mask, I need to find a new home for it.

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more mysteries, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

For more haunted houses, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

 

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: House of Salt and Sorrows

So the idea of Catherine Morland’s Reading List came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen, and still do, I devoured books that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would have been reading.

It started with reading one, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on eventually reviewing. What can I say…

The next book I think Catherine Morland would read is…

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

So when this book passed my desk at the library, I immediately had to read it. The title, cover, fairy tale foundation, all tied up with a Gothic bow…you know me!

So the foundation of the story is The 12 Dancing Princesses, one of my favorites. In the original tale a King has 12 daughters who he locks up in his house every night, but every morning they are tired and their dancing shoes worn out. The king decrees that any man who finds out where they go each night and how, can marry any of the girls, and be King. However, if he does not figure it out in three days-the man will be killed. A soldier wounded from war and at a loss of what to do, is wandering through the woods were he mets an older lady. Some versions he helps her, others she sees his heart, but either way she gives him advice not to drink the wine served by the princesses and gives him an invisible cape.

That night, the soldier is almost convinced to drink the wine by the pretty princesses, but remembers the warning. He pretends and after he falls asleep, a trapdoor opens up in the floor and the girls get dressed, grab their shoes, get in a gondola, and pass silver, gold, and jewel encrusted trees to a ball in the underworld. There all the girls dance with dead princes, clearly under a spell. In the version I like, these princes want the girls as their brides to rule the underworld with them, and as the girls sleep less and less they are knocking on death’s door. The soldier goes reveals the truth, marrying one of the princesses. I have always been interested in the macabre tale, you know me and Gothic tales, so I was excited to see what Craig was going to do in her adaption.

Annaleigh lives in a beautiful castle, Highmoor, on an island in the sea. She is sixth of 12 daughters, having a happy childhood until her mother passed in the last daughter’s childbirth.

Since then, life has turned grim. Not too long after their mother’s death, the eldest sister, Ava, passed away when plague slipped through the island. Ava was followed by Octavia when she fell off a tall library ladder and broke her neck. Then Elizabeth, who always suffered from bouts of melancholia died by suicide. Annaleigh and her sisters follow the custom of wearing black for six months, followed by six months of gray. The girls have been wearing mourning colors for the last few years, secluded in their home, not allowed to take part in balls and festivities, etc.

Life is grey…

Their father, Duke of Salann Islands, has been free to travel, attend to business, etc. He remarried a young woman he met on the mainland, Morella, a woman young enough that many assume she is one of his 12 daughters.

Wow…

Not too long after the marriage, another sister died, Eulalie…but this death feels different, wrong. Ava’s death was easily explained, all saw the pustules and knew of the fever. Octavia was always clumsy and falling or bumping into things. And Elizabeth, she had a long history of depression. But Eulalie was nothing like any of them. She was healthy and strong, she was graceful and never awkward or off balance, and above all she loved life. She wasn’t interested in inheriting the Duchy and becoming the Duchess of Salann, but she loved being a lady of the island and she loved men. She was the most gorgeous of the 12 and had so many admirers.

So why did she fall off the cliff? What was she even doing out at night? Was she meeting someone? Was she murdered?

Hmm…

No one believes Annaleigh, but she feels something is not right at all and starts investigating the death of her sister, against her father’s wishes.

However, life takes a far different turn when Morella announces in the middle of Eulalie’s funeral that she is pregnant, and with a son. Morella also refuses to follow the customs of the island and wants a ball to celebrate her pregnancy and combine it with a party to celebrate the younger girl’s reaching womanhood.

Annaleigh is against this whole thing, as it looks and feels like no one cares about Eulalie, but she is outvoted and a ball is set with each sister getting their own set of “fairie slippers” dancing shoes.

Annaleigh begins investigating on the sly and visits with the fishermen who found Eulalie’s body. They found her with a locket, the chain smashed, but they could read the inscription on the piece. It was from a lover…a lover she planned to run away with, but was stopped? Or a lover that murdered her?

Hmmm…

She also meets a mysterious, handsome stranger, Cassius, who is on the island to take care of his sickly father. Cassius has otherworldly beauty and Annaleigh immediately falls for him.

All I can think is this stranger to be trusted, or is he going to bring more ruin on the household?

Hmm…

The ball comes, but it turns out to be a gloomy event. No one dances with the girls as they believe the house is cursed, that the girls carry death with them, people find it shocking that they aren’t even observing the proper grief rituals, etc. The ladies are sad, disheartened, lonely, and feel they will never escape grief, death, and gloom.

The house is full of grief, death, gloom, and tension. Verity, the youngest, starts feeling spirits and seeing things. Annaleigh starts to feel it too, seeing monsters. Are they full of grief and pain, or going crazy and cursed? Or could someone be trying to destroy the girls? Destroy their family?

Hmm…

An old family friend, Fisher, returns from being the lighthouse keeper and aids Annaleigh as her soundboard. He doesn’t offer much help, but does express a wish they could leave the island and the gossip of the curse. Annaleigh wishes the same thing, but knows her father will never let them go anywhere, they are in “mourning”. Fisher tells her stories of the gods, that there are “magic doors”, ones that allow them to go from their world to our world, easily transporting from island to capital, etc. If only, right?

Annaligh continues her investigations and finds a watch that Eulalie had. Inside was a lock of hair, a lock of blonde hair that matches Edgar Morris, the clock worker. He tells her they planned to run away that night, but when he got to their meeting place in the boat-someone, or something, knocked Eulalie over. So who, or what killed Eulalie? Or is Edgar lying and he is the murder?

Hmm…

No on believes him, but Annaleigh. The house grows darker and more depressed as the remaining girls realize the deaths of their older sisters have tainted them and they will never be able to escape…

Annaleigh wants raise their spirits and proposes searching for one of these “doors” Fisher mentioned earlier. They search the whole house and grounds but find nothing.

They decide to check the mausoleum, and when they get to the statue of the girl’s mother, they discover a door behid her. Fisher goes in first, followed by Annaleigh’s sisters Ligeia and Rosalie. After what seems like forever, the two return with an invitation to a masked ball. Uh oh, masked ball? Masked balls in Gothic stories don’t go so great.

Erik: [at the Bal Masque as “The Red Death”] Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

All the girls are excited for the ball, for a chance to be free from gloom and doom. The theme is nightmares and daydreams, each sister excitedly coming up with beautiful costumes after beautiful costume-again so pleased to wear something other than black or gray.

The girls continue to dance night after night, except for Annaleigh, and start changing from the girls she knew. Fisher tells Annaleigh he loves her, but when she refuses him, he disappears and so does her help. Edgar passes away, and with him Annaleigh’s link to finding more about Eulalie. And then some more of her sisters pass away.

What else?

Annaleigh continues to see, smell, and hear things-things no one else does. Is the house haunted by ghosts, by one of her sisters? Are they cursed? Is someone trying to make her go insane, or did they bargain with a trickster to drive them all insane?

Annaleigh is running out of time. She must find out who or what the culprit is.

I really enjoyed this story as it blended many things I love-gothic fiction, fairy tales, etc. It was a compelling story and a good mystery, one that I enjoyed and tried to guess who was behind it all. I figured it out who was doing it and why, but not the how.

Hmm…

I liked how Craig built the doom and gloom which explained why they wanted to go out and party, even at the risk of death for others and the change of who they are from the drinking and partying in the god’s world.

Pleasure Garden from Metropolis 

The only thing I didn’t like was that there was a character I really liked and he ended up passing away. Darn.

But otherwise, very good. Even my niece enjoyed it. She was drawn to the cover, like me, and sucked into the Gothic tale.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Distant Hours

For more on Gothic Novels, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Inn at Half Moon Bay

For more mysteries, go to An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

For more Fairy Tale retellings, go to Why I Still Love My Fair Godmother