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The Beetle: A Mystery [Paperback]

Richard Marsh
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Price: £6.36 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

10 Jan 2013
Marsh's greatest commercial success came with one of his earliest novels, The Beetle (1897). A story about a mysterious oriental figure who pursues a British politician to London, where he wreaks havoc with his powers of hypnosis and shape-shifting, Marsh's novel is of a piece with other sensational turn of the 19th to 20th century fictions such as Stoker's Dracula, George du Maurier's Trilby, and Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels. Like Dracula and many of the sensation novels pioneered by Wilkie Collins and others in the 1860s, The Beetle is narrated from the perspectives of multiple characters, a technique used in many late 19th-century novels (those of Wilkie Collins and Stoker, for example) to create suspense and to confuse gender boundaries.

Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (10 Jan 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1481957112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481957113
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 954,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Richard Marsh (12 October 1857 – 9 August 1915) was the pseudonym of the British author born Richard Bernard Heldmann. A best-selling and prolific author of the Victorian Fin de siècle and the early Edwardian period, Marsh's success rivalled that of contemporary writers of popular fiction such as Marie Corelli. He is best known today for his supernatural thriller The Beetle: A Mystery, which was published in the same year as Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) and was initially even more popular. The Beetle remained in print until 1960, and was subsequently resurrected in 2004, since which time numerous further editions have appeared. Marsh produced nearly 80 volumes of fiction and numerous short stories, in genres ranging across horror, crime, romance and humour. Many of these are once again available following their republication since 2007. Marsh's grandson Robert Aickman was a notable writer of short "strange stories".

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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By K701
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a horrible disappointment. We have Marsh's classic Victorian text presented in a disagreeable budget style fashion (not the classic budget style as Penguin do so well). The cover is all pixelated as if it were enlarged from an original source the size of a stamp. The text is presented in a modern font and laid out with little margin and so at a glance one would think it was a revision study guide that a school has self published. The formatting is poor as text has not been 'justified' equally across the page as all novels are, only 'aligned left' which is small doses is fine, but for a whole novel becomes tiring. These are basics of book publishing. All this on the same paper stock that you'd find in any household printer. The publisher is hidden at the back and very small; I understand that. Amazon have published this edition. And done it on the cheap. Why not at least use low cost pulp paper and a traditional font for an 1897 novel and lay it out in a style easy to read (which was figured out in the 15th Century). The only horrifying aspect of the novel is the presentation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating occult horror 12 Sep 2014
By w james
An entertaining occult novel which features a strange person from the East who comes to London and engages in all sorts of supernatural nastiness. Anyone who likes the work of H.P. Lovecraft would probably enjoy it. It is a little wordy compared to modern novels, but it's worth the effort. Also, the occultist Kenneth Grant was a big fan of this novel, and anyone interest in the supernatural and occult may well like it.
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For me The Beetle is essentially a collector's item. Reading it in full for the first time some years ago, I was rather disappointed. It isn't written very excitingly and I felt I was reading it because I had to know what happened at the end, without really enjoying the experience. When it comes that ending is not one but two massive cop-outs, the plot being resolved in the first place by a highly fortuitous twist of fate. It's also rather nasty in tone, and especially the scene where Lessingham's enemy plans to suffocate his cat in a bell jar in order to spite him. The one point in its favour is the frisson of horror you get from the chilling reason why the cult of Isis like to kidnap young white English girls - though I could say that's nasty too. It's intriguing if nothing else, and one would be interested (if probably repelled) to know the precise thinking behind it on their part. Some would say it's racist, though the author is perhaps not guilty of racism so much as racial favouritism; Arabs come over quite well and it's rather the cultists (who seem ethnically to be akin to black Africans, as some, at least, of the ancient Egyptians were, so I'm told) who are the villains. Of course, a lot of the popular literature from this era was like that. But when the story has little else to recommend it it tends just to come across as distasteful.
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