The Secret Beyond the Door. Best 100 Mysteries of All Time


The Secret Beyond the Door-(original title: Museum Piece No.13)–Rufus King-1946–Doubleday Crime Club–OOP

I chose to use the title under which I read the book , because it’s sooooo Gothic in feel, lol. It was made into a film, and one that closely sticks to the book, unusually so. Lily, a widow with money who must marry to be able to retain said money, falls violently in love with a publisher,  Earl Romney. They marry, he leaves early the next morning for business reasons-cutting off the honeymoon. Later in the best Rebecca tradition, the bride is ushered into her new home, run by his domineering sister, inhabited by her husband, and Earl’ son. And let’s not overlook the constantly veiled a-little-too-loyal-secretary. Also not to be dismissed, the memory of his suddenly dead first wife. There’s a whole lot of creepy atmosphere, because her new husband’s hobby is collecting crime scenes–real crime scenes down to the dust on the floors. He reassembles each murder room meticulously and is proud as punch to show them off to friends.  Except for room 13–that is still in progress,  and the door is always kept locked. There you have it, you can guess where it’s going–or is it going where you think? A lot of reviewers call it a ‘modern’ bluebeard tale, but I don’t really see the similarities, other than the dead wife, locked room, new wife forbidden to ever open the door, she ignoring his wishes–oh, yeah, I get it!

I enjoy Rufus King a great deal, he has a varied interesting body of work, and although not many find this book particularly worthy, I think the premise was groundbreaking and completely unique in crime fiction at the time–exploring the warped mind of a person whose obsession is  morbid, and contemplating his possible violent tendencies. And, it’s just plain gothic fun. Wife-doesn’t-know-if-recent-husband-is-murderer gothic, before the 60s gothics were abundant and repetitive. (I should know, I read them all as a pre-teen)

I explained there would be titles a little more obscure than others, and this is probably one! Chances are you’ll be able to find the paperback version of the book on, if you must, like me, open room No. 13!


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