The Beetle

A Mystery

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Author: Richard Marsh (Richard Bernard Heldman)
Published: 1897
Language: English
Wordcount: 114,983 / 316 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 83.4
LoC Category: PN
Downloads: 8,543 4734

A fantastic creature, "born of neither god nor man," hypnotic and supernatural, stalks British politician Paul Lessingham through turn-of-the-century London. A classic tale of supernatural horror.

Show Excerpt

ouse was empty; nay, probably. It was my plain duty to knock at the door, rouse the inmates, and call attention to their oversight,--the open window. The least they could do would be to reward me for my pains. But, suppose the place was empty, what would be the use of knocking? It would be to make a useless clatter. Possibly to disturb the neighbourhood, for nothing. And, even if the people were at home, I might go unrewarded. I had learned, in a hard school, the world's ingratitude. To have caused the window to be closed--the inviting window, the tempting window, the convenient window!--and then to be no better for it after all, but still to be penniless, hopeless, hungry, out in the cold and the rain--better anything than that. In such a situation, too late, I should say to myself that mine had been the conduct of a fool. And I should say it justly too. To be sure.

Leaning over the low wall I found that I could very easily put my hand inside the room. How warm it was in there! I could feel the differ


Average Rating of 3.7 from 3 reviews: ****
Paulo Respighi

A novel that does for insect-haters what Dracula did for bat-haters. The episodes with the Beetle are quite creepy. Unfortunately, s/he doesn't pop up that often; most of the novel is upper-class English people discussing what is going on, and a formal Ball or two. I'm not awfully sympathetic to the rich British or the plight of politicians, so at times I was hoping the villain would hurry and mix things up a bit. The chase across London was good. The women characters appealed to me more than any of the men. The interminable cultivated English conversations made the book drag.


This old horror novel holds up pretty well. It was published in the same year as Bram Stoker's Dracula and was more popular in its day. A British politician is being stalked by a weird man/woman/beetle creature. The story is told from several different points of view. There is a strong heroine character. It is quite readable and moves along well. It's a pretty good book, but the ending is disappointing. Recommended nonetheless.


This is a novel somewhat in the vein of The Hound of the Baskervilles. There are a number of narrators each of whom describes events from their personal viewpoint. It is a precursor of the giant monster movie genre of the 1950's, with a touch of the mystic East/Yellow Peril works from the first part of the last century. A goood read, but had the potential to be a great read. The resolution seems to leave room for sequels.

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