House on the Beach

houseonthebeach

House on the Beach
Eleanor Elford Cameron | Pocket Books | 1972 | 191 pages

Bearing no relation to the moonlit castle scene on the cover, House on the Beach instead may be generously classified as a California Gothic, with its young heroine potentially trapped in a dangerous web of murderous intrigue.

Walking back to her aunt Maggie’s home along the beach, young heiress Ivy McCall witnesses a suspicious scene at a neighbor’s beach house. Outlined by the light coming from the patio door, she sees a figure emerge from the house carrying what appears to be a heavy bundle of blankets. Seeming to scan the beachfront for observers, the man surreptitiously takes his misshapen cargo around the side of the house and disappears. Moments later, Ivy sees a white sports car drive off down the oceanfront highway. However, although she failed to see him clearly, she is convinced that the man turned his head in her direction and spotted her watching from behind a pile of driftwood.

Reflecting back upon the scene she just observed, Ivy considers the terrifying possibility that the blankets concealed a body—making the man she saw a possible murderer! As she continues her walk home along the highway, a white sports car suddenly appears from around a curve and accelerates, nearly hitting her and forcing her to jump from the roadside into a ditch full of brambles. The driver pulls her back up to the road to check on her condition, but unsure whether this is the same man from earlier on the beach, Ivy runs away in a panic.

Discussing the incident with Aunt Maggie, Ivy learns that—coincidentally—the beach house belongs to her college roommate Karen Kendall’s boyfriend David Rogers, and his older brother Curt. Karen, David, and Ivy’s beau from school Bill Gruber are coming to town to celebrate their upcoming graduation, and have plans to get together at the very beach house that Ivy fears may have been the scene of a recent murder. As Ivy struggles with what she has witnessed, and the related notion that someone in her close circle of friends may be involved, other events unfold that make her fear that her own life may be in danger.

Although key failures, such as Ivy not immediately reporting to the police when an attempt is made on her life, scuttle the overall suspension of disbelief, ultimately they are of little matter. The plot exists only to place Ivy in a position of romantic peril, with her attraction to Curt growing along with the evidence against him. The biggest question may not be “Who done it?” but whether or not Ivy leaves her marginally dull, Shakespeare-quoting boyfriend for the dangerously magnetic murder suspect.

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4 thoughts on “House on the Beach

  1. To be honest, I’d be likely to pick up this book on the strength of the pulpy cover art alone. It’s just the right shade of wonderfully naff! I may have to look it up on Amazon. Could you tell me what the writing itself is like? The story is one I can get behind so long as it’s told well 🙂

    • I’m not sure what the going rate is for this title online, but I picked up a signed copy that appeared to have been unread for less than ten dollars—maybe that was a great score! I do see the appeal of the cover for collectors, with its super-sized moon over the castle and its red-gowned heroine, even though it is totally inappropriate for the contemporary California setting of the the story.

      The writing, although far from exceptional, gets the job done in telling the always appealing “I think I may have seen a murder” story. Add the protagonist’s growing fear/attraction of the main suspect, and you have a quick, entertaining read.

      Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      • The fact that the cover is in no way representative of the setting is also a novel plus! It’s a nice idea. Ok, I’ll keep an eye out for an affordable copy – thanks for the recommendation!

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