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The Cellar at No. 5 (1954)

af Shelley Smith

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282836,770 (3.67)9
Mrs. Rampage lives alone, in a large house cluttered with her precious objets d'art. Her daughter is half a world away, and her niece has no time for the old lady. So Mrs. Rampage is persuaded - much against her will - to take a companion into her home: Mrs. Roach, a poor but respectable widow. As resentment mounts between the pair, a violent confrontation is inevitable when the suppressed tension finally boils over...… (mere)
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I had never heard of The Party at No. 5 by Shelley Smith before seeing it on H. R. Keating’s List of 100 Best Crime Novels. Originally published in 1954, this is an odd story that has been labelled an “inverted mystery” by one critic, and a story of domestic malice by another. I was totally absorbed by this book and needing to see the resolution, read it in one sitting.

Two elderly ladies are brought together, one as a companion to the other, and we see them become more and more resentful of each other. Mrs. Rampage is spoilt and insensitive, although she lives in a large house and is surrounded by beautiful things, she pinches every penny and counts the cost of everything. Her niece has brought Mrs. Roach into the house to be her companion. Mrs. Roach is a widow who has no financial security and must work for a living. On the surface Mrs. Roach appears to be a patient, caring person but as the book develops we find she is deftly separating Mrs. Rampage from her friends and family as well as procuring valuable items from the house. The two women circle around each other, their relationship moving from friendly, to resentful, to hatred. The tension mounts and we wonder which one of the two will finally gain the upper hand.

The author did an excellent job with both the interplay between the two characters and with slowly building the tension as Mrs. Rampage feels more and more trapped in a situation that she can’t control. The atmosphere in the book changes as the story develops and we go from the light, almost humorous mood at the beginning of the book to downright horror. The Party At No. 5 may not work for everyone as it is a very claustrophobic story but I thought it was pure genius. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 23, 2021 |
Slight spoilers.

A genteel Brit Nasty and a nice description of one woman's decent into dementia and madness. Some really great lines, like 'There must be some good religious people'. The UK title may have been 'The Party at No. 5'; appropriate and avoids the camp horror buildup of the US title. ( )
  SomeGuyInVirginia | Feb 16, 2013 |
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Shelley Smithprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Kopperi, Pauli A.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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Mrs. Rampage lives alone, in a large house cluttered with her precious objets d'art. Her daughter is half a world away, and her niece has no time for the old lady. So Mrs. Rampage is persuaded - much against her will - to take a companion into her home: Mrs. Roach, a poor but respectable widow. As resentment mounts between the pair, a violent confrontation is inevitable when the suppressed tension finally boils over...

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