- By Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning
- First published: US: Mystery League, 1930
As everyone knows by now, this anticipates the Agatha Christie novel now known as And Then There Were None: several people are invited to a social gathering by a mysterious host, trapped in an unescapable location (here, a New Orleans penthouse, sealed off by electrified doors and poison gas), threatened by a disembodied voice, and murdered one by one. Christie’s novel, while hardly her best, is unquestionably superior: the nursery rhyme scheme and the guests’ murderous secrets are archetypal. Bristow and Manning’s is fast-paced, but the characters are indistinguishable (try telling Hank and Peter apart), the murders (one every hour) are far-fetched and monotonous, and the solution is strangely underwhelming.
What would you do if a radio suddenly informed you that it was impossible for you to leave a party you had been invited to, and that unless you could avoid the traps set for you Death would find you before morning came?
Eight guests in a penthouse, nineteen stories above the city streets, are confronted with just this situation in this thrilling story by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning.
Each had received a telegram of invitation, signed merely “Your Host”, to a party at which he or she was to be the guest of honour. Each found upon arriving that one of the other guests was a bitter enemy. Each accused the others of being the host.
Suddenly a menacing voice from the radio informed them all that they had been invited to play a game of Death, that they could not escape from the apartment, and that unless the could avoid the traps set for them they would all be dead when morning came.
To tell more would spoil that pleasure that every Mystery League reader wil obtain in following the intricate yet logical plot that slowly unravels as each page is turned to state, however, that The Invisible Host is that rare thing, the practically perfect mystery story, of most original plot, splendid characterisation, high suspense, and fair yet extremely well concealed solution, is to only give a fine story its just due.
The Editors of the Mystery League firmly believe that in introducing Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning to their readers they have discovered two authors that in years to come will rank with the leaders in this field of endeavour.
3 thoughts on “The Invisible Host (Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning)”
We watched the dvd of And Then There Were None only recently; magnificent Cornish setting with art deco hotel and Charles Dance on top form as the murderous judge.
I liked this more than you did, but I also can’t disagree with your comments. It was fun seeing the obvious skill Christie brought to her superior version, but this remains a sort of compelling B-movie in its own right. That said, I’ll definitely reread ATTWN and I can’t honestly say I’ll ever pick this up again.