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The Room with the Tassels

May 2, 2017

Carolyn Wells’ mysteries are…not very good, in general. The solutions to the mysteries feel like cop-outs. Her detectives and their weird child assistants are entertaining, but because she only ever brings them in for about the last third of the book, they feel like intruders. She’s excessively fond of secret passages, but rarely gets any fun out of them. The characters are inconsistent and usually unappealing, too.

So, I’m sitting here trying to think of any reason to recommend The Room With The Tassels, and I can’t. I was ready to enjoy the conceit: a bunch of wealthy New Yorkers search out a haunted mansion to vacation in so they can investigate some ghosts. But Wells didn’t make it enjoyable. There are things she’s good at. I’m pretty sure I love the Patty Fairfield books for a reason. But those things are rarely present in her mysteries.

Anyway, this collection of vacationers shows up at the house, and it’s very spooky, and soon some haunting happens. And then a couple of the slightly more appealing characters die mysteriously, and the rest of them stick around in this house for reasons that are explained over and over again, but failed to convince me. And then Pennington Wise shows up with his assistant Zizi. and I’d remembered them as the most appealing of Wells’ detectives, but…eh. They bring a little of Wells’ non-mystery charm to the book, but not enough. It’s worth noting that all of the actual detective work seems to be done by Zizi.

Oh, I’ve thought of two good things:

  1. I like the clue that leads Penny Wise and Zizi to suspect the murderer.
  2. There was a character whose existence seemed to be totally pointless, but I’ve realized no that she’s there to make you distrust another character.
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