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The Spiral Staircase,
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This review is from: Some Must Watch (Arcturus Crime Classics) (Paperback)
Ethel Lina White isn't necessarily a name that you may know, her literary output in her lifetime was pretty modest, compared with some of her peers. Nowadays it seems more and more difficult to get hold of her works, so it is is good that this is now more widely available. Although you may not have heard of her, you will surely recognise two films that were made out of her novels, 'The Wheel Spins' became Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes [DVD], and this novel was the basis for The Spiral Staircase [DVD] . The film was based and inspired by this book, but there are differences, the major one being that in this, Helen Capel isn't a mute. I will not tell you whether the murderer is the same, you will just have to read the book to find out.
Nineteen year old Helen Capel has got a job in the Warren family household, which is somewhere on the English/ Welsh border. The house is pretty isolated, there are other houses within a few miles, but the nearest village is twelve miles away. Recently there has been a spate of murders, all the victims being young women who work. The murders are gradually coming closer to the Warren house. With a new nurse being installed, on a very stormy night, the house is left in isolation, and as people leave, others are drugged, there seems to be only the nurse, the old invalid, Lady Warren, and Helen awake.
Murder is in the air, and Helen the obvious victim, but can it be prevented? This story takes in the dynamics of a group, the tensions and teasing that goes on and you find yourself becoming fully immersed in the tale, even more so than the film. If you are into the 'Golden Age' of crime, then you should really read this book - it is well worth it.