Good, fast paced mystery about an heiress who has been missing for twenty years. Now strange things are happening in her rural Vermont home.
Twenty years ago Mary Harmon disappeared. She inherited five million dollars from her widower father. On the night she vanished Mary was visited by Count Briskow. The two were going to be married. That same night young Dr.Hawkins also stopped by. The Count was interested in his experiments and Mary staked him to a lab. The two men were heard to argue That’s the last anyone saw Mary or Hawkins.
Later on the Count thought he spotted him on board a ship but before he could confront him the man jumped overboard. A letter was found addressed to a lawyer in which Mary said she’d be dead by the time the letter reached him. The lawyer who found it had it checked out but it all ended in speculation. The fortune remains in the Boston trust company.
Now twenty years have passed. One dark night a man riding past the abandoned house saw the phantom like figure of a woman. She said she was looking for her daughter. Later that night two hunters spotted a blue lamp in the house and decided to explore. They also saw the woman but ran off when they heard a loud scream. The sheriff investigates and finds footprints in the dust of the house but no woman.
Jimmy Battles is a reporter for a Boston paper. He’s assigned to spend a night alone in the house. He’s the son of the lawyer who found Mary’s letter and the nephew of the sheriff. He’s scared inside the old house and then he sees a man draped over the stairwell and then a flight of stairs disappeares. He goes further and discovers a secret room.
Inside is a blue lamp and……a babe. Yes, she’s a knockout. She doesn’t know how she got there or who she is. Jimmy goes to investigate the body but it’s gone. When he gets back the stairs are closed and he can’t open them. He goes to the sheriff’s house and tells him everything. Then they get a visitor.
It’s the man whose body was draped over the stairwell. He’s a sleazy lawyer out to get some blackmail as he mistakes Jimmy for someone else. The phone rings. A body has been discovered in the house next to a shattered blue lamp. When the sheriff calls Jimmy by his right name the lawyer knows he’s made a mistake. The distraction of the call allows him to escape.
Developments keep happening and the book never gets dull. I doubt this was ever in paperback in later years so it’s probably tucked away in a corner of a used book store with the hardcovers by authors almost no one ever heard of.