cover image The Listening House

The Listening House

Mabel Seeley. Berkley Prime Crime, $16 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-33454-6

First published in 1938, this smart, stylish debut from Seeley (1903–1991)—the Mystery Writers of America’s inaugural director—finds 26-year-old divorced copywriter Gwynne Dacres unemployed after an embarrassing typo slips past her into the newspaper. To stretch her savings until potential employers forget the gaffe, Gwynne trades her apartment for a room in a converted mansion owned by Harriet Garr—an older woman who seems extraordinarily paranoid about tenants snooping through her things. Gwynne’s quarters are pleasant, but she frequently feels like the place is somehow aware of her every move. When a string of unsettling crimes occur in and around the house, Gwynne resolves to let the Gilling City police investigate. Then Mrs. Garr dies under suspicious—and gruesome—circumstances, prompting Gwynne to team up with roguish ex-reporter Hodge Kistler to probe their fellow lodgers’ histories and alibis. Secrets abound, studding Seeley’s multilayered mystery with red herrings. Like her tenacious heroine, Seeley’s writing showcases intelligence and a razor-sharp wit. This exceptional reissue is certain to win Seeley a whole new generation of fans. (May)