Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: THE SECRET HOUSE by Edgar Wallace

book cover Original Publication Date: 1917

Genre: mystery/thriller

Topics: blackmail

Review by heidenkind:

The Secret House might be the weirdest book I have ever read. And you know I reads me some weird books.

I'm not even going to attempt to give a summary of this book because if I did, it would be five hundred words and not make a lick of sense. Basically The Secret House is about a blackmailing scheme that this SUPER odd editor of a gossip magazine has going (he wears a veil and disappears into secret passages in his office), and his sectary, "the adventurer" Poltavo, who's cool with cashing in on that. As for the secret house, it would be more accurate to say it's a house OF secrets rather than a secret house. It's full of secret passages and has more elevators than an Otis factory.

There are several similarities between The Secret House and The Green Rust. One, it's a weird book. Two, it starts with the death of an old guy who just happens to be rich and wants to pass on his monies to a beautiful young woman who has to chose between two men: an honorable hero-type bloke and a super-sketchy foreigner. Unlike in The Green Rust, however, I didn't care at all about the hero-type guy, although there were a lot of statements by him and other characters that made me wonder if Edgar Wallace wasn't a bit of a feminist.

No, the only character I cared about in The Secret House was Count Poltavo (he became a count at some point, whatever, it happens), to the point where I pretty much convinced myself he was the hero of the book. I mean, I knew there was a 99% chance he was actually the villain, because he's Polish. And Poland is adjacent to Germany, so he's practically German and therefore most definitely a bad guy, per Wallace Logic. But I was really kind of hoping he wasn't the villain, because he was awesome. Wallace kept calling him an "adventurer," and there was definitely an Indian Jones-ish, take-no-prisoners, think-my-way-out-of-this-situation-because-I'm-super-clever-and-dashing sensibility to him. Except Wallace was using the term adventurer as an insult. AND THEN THE ENDING HAPPENED. LIKE OMG WTF? It was so ugly and horrible and I don't... I can't even... WTF?!@

Spoilers about the ending because I need to get it off my chest (highlight to read): Poltavo is captured by some stealery dudes and electrocuted to death. Like in a straight-up electric chair. Did you ever see Dead Man Walking? It was kind of like that. HORRIBLE. And then the men who killed him didn't see any retribution for it and everyone was like "Oh well."

Anyway. I might have said I liked The Secret House if it wasn't for the ending, but since the ending WAS so bad and I wish I could buy myself some brain bleach and write Wallace an angry letter, I don't recommend it.

Further Reading:

Download The Secret House by Edgar Wallace from Project Gutenberg|Librivox|Amazon