(Linford Mystery Library Large Print edition, 1998; first published 1974)
Mike Farraday’s car gets a blown tyre on a Californian highway on the wettest night since Noah launched his boat. Close by Mike sees a gate which leads to a shuttered mansion. As he treads the path to the mansion, the trees close over him like folded hands. This script is written in best scriptwriter’s Gothic. Some instinct warns him not to ring the bell pull and instead he kneels down to look through the letterbox – only to see someone looking out at him!
The people in the house – an enigmatic lawyer named Stillwell and some others - are in worse straits than Mike, as they claim not to have a phone or a car; but he’s finally offered a drink and they tell him when he can expect the next bus to take him to the garage two miles down the road.
He’s barely reached the road when he’s almost run down by a coupe driven by a blonde. The blonde says her name is Jill Thomas, and when she learns that Mike is a private eye, she asks for help. She's on the run, being pursued by two men in another car. There’s no time to explain the situation in more detail, because the other car pulls up and Mike and Jill take off back into the grounds of the house, clambering down a hill beside a waterfall and taking shelter in a summer house.
Hiding from their pursuers in the house with the sounds of the storm battering the walls, the girl reveals that sinister powers had had her legally legally incarcerated in Bellevue as a homicidal maniac.
Carefully Mike takes another square of the chocolate bar she's offered him...
Last night, I woke up in the small hours and knew I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep. Somehow I wasn’t in the mood for any of the books on the bedside table. Then I remembered picking up this large print detective thriller in a recent library sale. It’s terrific and has restored my faith in Basil Copper after the tedious slog that was Necropolis.