Friday, July 30, 2010
Thank heaven Bunting lit the sign that night
Written in 1913 and based upon the “Jack the Ripper” murders, the book was also the inspiration for a silent film made by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927. And that's what drew me to read it, although I haven't yet watched the movie. But as it's nearly 100 years old, it's not as fast-moving as books today generally are, and I came very close to putting it down. But its strength is in the ability to develop and heighten tension and suspense (which, no doubt, appealed to Hitchcock). Having been saved from ruinous poverty and starvation by the lodger Mrs. Bunting becomes protective of her good fortune. She continually ignores her suspicions, even though the stress takes a serious toll on her health.
Perhaps the book is most interesting for the psychological profile of the Buntings as so totally dependent upon their lodger that they would ignore common sense (and a reward!). They risk the danger of harboring a murderer (and becoming "accessories to the crime") to avoid the shame that would come if their suspicious should turn out to be correct. Like I said before, it's not an especially gripping or fast-moving story like a Michael Crichton novel would be, but it's interesting... and a nice change of pace, too.