Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

“The Avenger was not a ghost; he was a living man with some kind of hiding-place where he was known, and where he spent his time between his awful crimes.”

“however nomad he may be in his habit; must have some habitat where his ways are known to at least one person. Now the person who knows the terrible secret is evidently withholding information in expectation of a reward, or maybe because, being an accessory after the fact, he or she is now afraid of the consequences. My suggestion, Sir, is that the Home Secretary promise a free pardon. The more so that only thus can this miscreant be brought to justice. Unless he was caught red-handed in the act, it will be exceedingly difficult to trace the crime committed to any individual, for English law looks very askance at circumstantial evidence.”

Jack the Ripper had killed at least five women in the East End. How did he escape notice? He has to live somewhere, and with all the blood on his hands and clothes somebody should have noticed something, also going out at strange hours in bad weather, should have made somebody suspect something. So why didn't the person who noticed come out with the truth? Is it greed for reward, money, or fear of being the accessary to murders, or fear of the Ripper himself? What is it that stopping these persons from talking up? Could it be something as inane as misplaced loyalty? Marie Belloc Lowndes has used this as the premise for her psychological suspense and changed the Ripper to Avenger. 

The Buntings are literally starving, and then they find a Lodger, who makes them possible to eat and live. The Lodger is eccentric, doesn't like anybody except Mrs Bunting to wait upon him,  Then there are murders in the East End. Could a Gentleman living in the West End be responsible for the horrible murders in the East End? The Lodger keeps strange hours, sneaks off into the small hours of the morning in fog. He reads and quotes from Bible, about women who should be punished. If you are starving to death, would you put the man who made it possible for you to eat again go to his death? What if he were murderer, somebody killing women every fortnight? But he looks so gentle, eccentric yes, bit touched upon the head perhaps, and he has taken harbour with you. Will you betray somebody who placed faith on you? I mean yes he is eccentric, but do you know for sure? If you did, what would you do? There are fears and suspicion and sometimes you just know even if you don't want to acknowledge to yourself. And Mrs. Bunting knows. There is the young policeman who is friendly to Bunting who drops in giving them latest developments in the murders. Then Mr.Bunting's daughter comes to stay with them creating a tense atmosphere. What is going to happen now? 

Mrs. Bunting is not one to betray. But she knows only the killer, the victims are just a name. If she knew the victim, realise that they are human beings too not just names, will her stand change? Interesting psychological suspense. 


neer said...

This book has long been on my wishlist. After reading your review, I want to read it all the more. If only there was a little more time....

srivalli said...

This is really a short novel, perfect for a rainy night. Hope you find time to read it. Thanks for stoping by Neer.