While the Patient Slept

Mignon Good Eberhart, Author, Jay Fultz, With
Mignon Good Eberhart, Author, Jay Fultz, With Bison Books $19.95 (315p) ISBN 978-0-8032-6726-8
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Hardcover - 978-0-88411-759-9
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Though female sleuths are the rage today, Eberhart broke new ground with the introduction of Nurse Sarah Keate in The Patient in Room 18 in 1929. A year later, as Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple made her debut, Eberhart published While the Patient Slept, and she and Nurse Keate were catapulted to fame. Sarah, ``an old maid'' with a ``lively and inquiring mind,'' has a knack for murder and mayhem. Hired to care for the comatose patriarch of the reclusive Federie clan, she is immediately struck by the gloom and doom of the old manse and its mysterious occupants. The first murder occurs within feet of a dozing Sarah, and a second leaves ``the respectable and respected spinster'' shaken. Enter police detective Lance O'Leary, the perfect foil for Sarah's acerbic wit and derring-do. Though the language is often dated and readers will catch on before Sarah, Eberhart's timing and gothic atmosphere are second to none. As the suspense steadily builds, Federie House's darkness and decay seep from the pages until the satisfying denouement. Though Sarah may not be as quick as today's pistol-packing feminists, her return is a welcome addition to the distinguished ranks of other silver-streaked gumshoes. (Apr.)
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