Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Listening House - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Listening House by Mabel Seeley

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  After losing her copywriting job, young Gwynne Dacres seeks a place to live when she stumbles upon Mrs. Garr’s old boarding house. Despite the gruff landlady and an assortment of shifty tenants, Gwynne rents a room for herself. She spends her first few nights at 593 Trent Street tensely awake, the house creaking and groaning as if listening to everything that happens behind its closed doors.

A chain of chilling events leads to the gruesome discovery of a mutilated body in the basement kitchen, dead of unknown circumstances. Was it an accident or murder? Under the red-black brick façade of the old house on Trent Street, Gwynne uncovers a myriad of secrets, blackmail, corruption, and clues of a wicked past. As she closes in on the truth, the cold, pale hands of death reach for Gwynne in the night…

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to read more classic American mysteries and I couldn't resist picking this one up when it was rereleased this month.

My Impression:  I'm a huge fan of classic mysteries - particularly those written by women authors like Christie, Sayers, Marsh, and Wentworth.  However, most of my reading has been limited to British authors with only one Mary Roberts Rinehart read.  So when I saw that this book was originally published in 1938 I couldn't resist.  Mabel Seeley is a new name to me and it seems like quite the crime that she isn't better known.  

I'm not sure this is a British vs American style issue or just my reading experience but if you're expecting an Agatha Christie clean straightforward mystery you are going to be quite surprised.  Like with Mary Roberts Rinehart's books the atmosphere is so palpable in The Listening House it's essentially a character in itself.  593 Trent Street oozes sinister vibes and all of the residents live with the feeling hovering over their head  every day - and that's before the rather gruesome murder.

I really enjoyed this read.  I really liked Gwynne.  She's kind of backed into a corner but she's got a good head on her shoulders and is not afraid to make herself heard.  The other residents of the house are intriguing and figuring out just who is what they seem and what they are hiding is entertaining.  I really had no idea of the whos and the whys until the very end.  My only real issue was the uneven pacing.  The last half had me really hooked but while I enjoyed the first half it was quite a bit slower.  That aside, this was an interesting read and a great choice if you're wanting to investigate some American classic mysteries.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm hoping more of her books are republished but I'll also be on the lookout for them elsewhere.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy atmospheric classic reads this is a good one to pick up.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *


  1. That sure is a lot of bad stuff going on! Sounds good!

  2. Sounds good, it seems to me often books have a slower pace at the beginning and as a reader we have to hang in there for the pay off! And when the second half is really well paced we get it.

  3. I love the cover. I would buy that house! 🏠

  4. Yes, the sinister atmosphere in this book was on point! I'd love to check out more of her books.