Vintage Gothic Suspense: NIGHTMARE IN JULY by Clara Coleman


Publisher: Lancer Books
Release Date: 1967

“The first time she met him, Amanda Swanson recognized the mark of evil deep in the stranger’s cold blue eyes. He terrified her even though she couldn’t name the secret he threatened her with. Yet her husband, knowing it, condemned her to spend the summer alone with him — and the legacy of violence he carried with him.”

Amanda Swanson’s husband Paul owns a publishing company. She was an editor there at one time, but quit working after they got married, feeling it wasn’t right to work at the same company or at a competing publisher. I was never convinced she was happy about the situation, but suddenly her life was dedicated to supporting Paul’s publishing ambitions. If only he were worthy of her loyalty!

Paul is ecstatic when he receives an incomplete manuscript in the mail that he believes will be a huge success. Paul invites this once-in-a-lifetime literary talent to finish his book at their secluded country home where they spend weekends.

When Amanda first meets Jordan Youngfield, she senses that something is off about the young author. Things get worse when Paul insists that she stay with Jordan in the country for the summer while he works in the city. Jordan’s behavior becomes more threatening, and Amanda fears for her safety, but Paul only cares about getting that finished manuscript…

“The last thing I did that night before I fell asleep was remind myself that danger surrounded me — that the Mill was a place of terror that July.”

Overall this was a suspenseful and enjoyable quick read. Jordan’s character needed more fleshing out, but he did come across as creepy. I felt bad for Amanda having to be second to Paul’s publishing company, plus he was a condescending jerk. The ending was good. Not a big surprise, but satisfying. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne


Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Vintage Domestic Suspense: DO EVIL IN RETURN by Margaret Millar


Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: 1974 (first published 1950)

Very good! DO EVIL IN RETURN is a mystery/domestic suspense novel first published in 1950. It was considered controversial at the time because the victim in this case is a young woman seeking an abortion (which would be illegal for another two decades in the United States).

Protagonist Dr. Charlotte Keating is torn — she wants to help Violet but doesn’t want to break the law. Violet runs away in frustration, but later Charlotte tries to track her down to see if there’s some way to improve her circumstances. Unfortunately it’s too late for Violet, and Charlotte’s interference puts her career and safety in jeopardy.

The mystery was twisty and surprising. I thought I had it figured out, but no! Some of the language and attitudes are dated, of course, but I thought that Charlotte was a compelling heroine. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

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