Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Halloween and Books

Remember when Halloween became a holiday for adults? I do -- roughly the mid-1980s. I lived in the Washington, DC area at the time, and it was great fun to wander around Georgetown in costume.

Lots of classics deal with scary things. I suppose every mystery does, in a way. The best ones present situations you think you could actually find yourself in. And with most of them, it's the anticipation of the scare more than what actually happens.

The scariest story I remember was one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes Stories -- Adventure of the Speckled Band. One woman has died and her sister worries that she will be next. It's a classic, so I think a spoiler is okay.

Holmes' logic considers all options, but ultimately we learn that the evil murderer sends a snake through the air vents. It crawled down a bell-rope and bit the sister. Of course, it had to be a wealthy family, which would have a bell-rope to call servants. It's Watson's point of view, but my mind was "with" the sister, Helen, waiting for someone to kill her.

I was propbably twelve or so when I read it, and I had to sleep with a light on for a week or more! That's a sign of a truly scary story. And we certainly didn't have a bell-rope.

If you're looking for other spooky stories, I recommend The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving and Will Moses. Agatha Christie's Hallowe'en Party: A Hercule Poirot Mystery is intriguing, but not the kind of story to make you look over your shoulder.

If you want some new stories, check out Trick or Treats: Tales of All Hallow's Eve (A Speed City Crime Writers Anthology). I like the way this SINC chapter describes the holiday -- All Hallows’ Eve, when the veil between the afterlife and this life thins, and the night fills with wonder and dread.

                                                             *                 *                 *

To learn more about Elaine, go to elaineorr.com or sign up for her newsletter

1 comment:

  1. I did a re-read of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories...loved the Adventure of the Speckled Band. Added that Trick or Treats book to my wish list! Thanks for the recommendation(s).