Archive for the ‘Seeley, Mabel’ Category

The Whistling Shadow by Mabel Seeley ~ 1954. This edition: Doubleday, 1954. Hardcover. 219 pages.

First, a personal note, to answer those who have so kindly inquired as to my extended absence from the blogosphere these past months. I could give a detailed account of this so-strange summer we’ve been having, but I won’t, because honestly it’s been decidedly frenetic in so many ways and really not worthy of revisiting.

Suffice it to say that we are keeping our heads above water (figuratively speaking) and that all is quite reasonably well. Ridiculously busy, but in the non-concrete sort of way where we have not much to show for it.

Reading time is confined to just-before-bedtime, and much of what I’ve read recently is rather blurry round the edges. So much stuff going on!

Still hoping to make a decent showing on the Century of Books project, so maybe the fast and basic book post is the key?

Like this one.

The Whistling Shadow is a compulsively readable noir novel, and I have to admit that I didn’t twig to the villain of the piece at all, though I did have qualms about the co-villain right from the get-go. As I was probably supposed to; Mabel Seeley seemed to be in full control of her narrative from start to finish.

Middle-aged Gail Kiskadden, widowed fifteen years earlier, mourns the drunk driving death of her twenty-year-old son Johnny by sitting in her darkened house playing solitaire all day and most of every night. Her grief has taken over her life; she can’t find a way forward.

Then one of her son’s friends comes with a piece of unexpected news: Johnny was secretly married while away serving on his Army detail. His widow was last heard of in Columbus, Georgia.

Gail sets out to find the mysterious Sherry Lee, and succeeds without much difficulty, and of course what she has both hoped and feared is evident: a grandchild is on the way.

Sherry Lee is delicately beautiful but intellectually not quite up to what Gail had expected of a partner of clever Johnny’s, and she also displays a sullen disinterest in meeting Gail halfway in regards to commiseration of their shared loss, but her apparently troubled financial position leads her to agreeing to accompany Gail back to Minneapolis to await the birth of her child.

It soon becomes apparent that Sherry Lee is a woman with a deeply complicated past, which follows her to Minneapolis. Death threats by hand-delivered letter, furtive midnight whistlings, ventriloquist’s dummies left in unexpected places: the plot thickens.

The threats increase as the months go by, culminating in the kidnapping of Gail’s baby grandson and further developments with the secret threatener, who proves to be a very real person with a distinct fondness for knives…

Seeley winds up the tension until the breaking point and a bit beyond, before bringing her strong female lead into a place of peace, albeit a fragile sort of respite as new complications have arisen in the revelation of a killer’s identity.

Good (dark) stuff.

This was Mabel Seeley’s last suspense novel of only ten published between 1938 and 1954. The Whistling Shadow is my first experience with Seeley; I hope it will not be my last.

My rating: 8.5/10



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