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Cat and Mouse by Christianna Brand
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Cat and Mouse (1950)

by Christianna Brand

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» See also 3 mentions

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I was so sure that I had figured out the solution, only to find out at the end how wrong I was!

I really enjoy Brand's mysteries but this is the first non-Inspector Cockerill one I have read (but not the last!). ( )
  leslie.98 | Jul 20, 2017 |
Christianna Brand's Cat and Mouse is a book that has haunted me since the first time I read it 30 years ago or more. Maybe it was just because I was much younger but "haunted" is indeed what this book has done to me. Just thinking about it creates a creepy atmosphere around me!

I found this in an old brown edition from The Detective's Book Club. It made the story look intriguing from the start. I knew nothing about the story or the author and I dove right in.

The heroine, Tinka Jones, gives advice on beauty to readers of a girl's magazine. She answers their letters and particularly notes the letters of a girl named Amista who talks about her village and the guy she's in love with. Her letters are enough to make Tinka take her vacation to Wales to meet Amista. Just one problem, when she arrives there, no one knows who Amista is. As she struggles to find out who wrote the letters, the atmosphere become unsettling and Tinka begins to doubt what she thought she knew. The ending is not to be missed and I had no idea what was coming. Boy, do I love that in a book!

The atmosphere of this mystery is exactly what you would expect from a visit to a desolate house in rainy Wales. You can feel the gloom and the chill and the shadows closing in on you. Such a perfect read if you have a rainy afternoon to spend with a book. It's a forgotten classic in my opinion and Christianna Brand is a master of the mystery well worthy of modern re-reads. ( )
1 vote Mrsbaty | Oct 28, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christianna Brandprimary authorall editionscalculated
Docktor, IrvIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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TO
MARY LEWIS,
who told me the true story upon which this story is based; and without whose work and patience and ruthless criticism none of my books would ever have been written at all.
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At intervals—a week, a day, a fortnight, as long as a month—Miss Friendly-wise would remove her elegant, high-heeled shoes from her elegant pink desk in the offices of that snappy little publication, Girls Together; and, softly closing her pinkly painted office door behind her, would walk down the long corridor to the pinkly painted office door of Miss Let's-be-Lovely and, throwing it open, announce with steadily increasing drama as the intervals went by: "Another letter from Amista!"
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Book description
A London writer falls into a trap of romance and false identity.

Katinka Jones spends her days beautifying, trying out the latest ointments, corsets, and creams in order to pass the information on to the thankful readers of Girls Together. When not immersed in a mud bath, she answers advice letters, and none are so compelling as those of Amista, a Welsh girl in love with a modern-day Heathcliff. Amista’s dramatic stories and beautiful descriptions of her village spark Tinka’s interest. For her next holiday, Tinka travels to Wales, where she finds that beauty-product salesmen aren’t the only people who lie.

No one in Pentre Trist has heard of Amista, and no one will admit to writing the letters. As she tries to learn the identity of her pen pal, Tinka stumbles into an ancient Welsh mystery. The letters may have been lies, but the danger they described is all too real.

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Tinka Jones needs to escape her London life and her job as a journalist. She decides to visit Amista, a friend that she has been writing to for some time. Amista lives in an isolated house in the Welsh hills and Tinka is looking forward to the peace and tranquillity as well as to meeting her new friend.

However, when Tinka arrives in Wales she is completely unprepared for the reception she receives. The locals have never heard of Amista and soon an increasingly frustrated Tinka begins to question everything she thought she knew. Who has been writing her letters if Amista doesn't exist, and if she does exist then where is she?

As events take a more sinister turn Tinka finds herself growing more uneasy. Stuck in a desolate house on the rain-swept hills she encounters unsettling and bizarre visitations as she sets out to unearth the mystery that surrounds Amista and the house — with chilling consequences.

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Tinka Jones writes "Miss Friendly-wise," an advice column for "Girls Together" magazine. After receiving several pleas for help from one poor soul in Wales, Tinka goes for a visit. But on arrival, the man of the house insists he lives alone with his two servants. (This charmer earned a spot on Julian Symon's list of the 100 best crime stories.)

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Katinka Jones, who as "Miss Friendly-wise" writes for a young women's magazine, Girls Together, finds herself in the wild mountains of Wales to visit her pen-friend Amista's isolated house. When the local inhabitants deny any knowledge of Amista's existence, events take increasingly abnormal and sinister turns. In atmosphere and style, this is a pure Gothic suspense novel in which the mounting terror is not alleviated by the tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Some years ago, Christianna Brand was told a true story and, "as I thought it would be fun to do a good, old-fashioned mystery melodrama," she has woven around it a tale of horror and suspense, set in a hideous suburban-like house in the heart of the rain-swept mountains of South Wales. From this house, letters have poured forth from a young girl calling herself 'Amista' — letters describing the house and things that have recently happened in the house. And yet, upon investigation, there is no 'Amista' — nobody in the village across the valley knows anything of any young girl at the house...

The solution of the mystery is based upon that long-ago anecdote and proves once again, if proof were necessary, that truth is really stranger than fiction.

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A London writer falls into a trap of romance and false identity Katinka Jones spends her days beautifying, trying out the latest ointments, corsets, and creams in order to pass the information on to the thankful readers of Girls Together. When not immersed in a mud bath, she answers advice letters, and none are so compelling as those of Amista, a Welsh girl in love with a modern-day Heathcliff. Amista's dramatic stories and beautiful descriptions of her village spark Tinka's interest. For her next holiday, Tinka travels to Wales, where she finds that beauty-product salesmen aren't the only people who lie. No one in Pentre Trist has heard of Amista, and no one will admit to writing the letters. As she tries to learn the identity of her pen pal, Tinka stumbles into an ancient Welsh mystery. The letters may have been lies, but the danger they described is all too real.… (more)

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