The Lodger by Marie
Mr. and Mrs. Bunting are in desperate straits: they have a boarding house with no boarders. Since their last lodger left, they have quietly pawned many of their lovely things and have even borrowed money from their young friend, the police detective Joe Chandler . Retired from service upon their late in life marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Bunting never thought they would ever face starvation but they are very close now indeed.
Mr. Bunting hears a news crier, “Horrible Murder! Murder at St. Pancras!”…”The Avenger! The Avenger at his work again!” He hasn’t read a paper for days and it was always one of his greatest pleasures. He can’t resist-never mind the cost-he gets up and buys a penny paper.
“He stepped past her heavily, and though she said nothing, he knew she grudged him his coming joy. Then, full of rage with her and contempt for himself, and giving himself the luxury of a mild, a very mild, oath-Ellen had very early made it clear she would have no swearing in her presence-he lit the hall gas full-flare.
‘How can we hope to get lodgers if they can’t even see the card?’ he shouted angrily.”
Sure enough, a little while later there’s a knock on the door…a man looking for lodgings. As Mr. Sleuth settles in, Mrs. Bunting becomes more and more unsettled. The Avenger murders continue and she begins to suspect her lodger.
This 1913 novel is a psychological drama…the question is, is it a psychological drama of a serial killer or of Mrs. Ellen Bunting? I definitely feel that I know much more about Mrs. Bunting and yet have many more questions as to why she acted the way she did than I do about the murderer. We are told about the murders as they are reported in the newspaper: are they connected to the Bunting household in any way or is it all in Ellen’s mind? The suspense builds-I could hardly restrain myself from peeking at the end of the book. (Definitely don’t look!)
This is one of those books that is perfect for a Book Club-I know I could discuss Ellen for hours.
The Lodger has been made into several movies: the first by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927. You can view this silent film free on-line here (and yes the storyline is as usual different from the book).