Chicago: Laird & Lee Publishers, [1912]. Octavo, pp. [1-2] [1-6] 7-280 + 3 leaves with publisher's ads on rectos with versos blank, five inserted plates with illustrations by Lucile Patterson, original light gray cloth, front and spine stamped in black and gold. First edition. John Oldfield, an archaeologist, and Robert Brush, a painter, have been friends since college and run into each other in Naples. Oldfield has come to the area to study the ruins of Pompeii, and Brush intends to spend a few months painting. By taking advantage of an uneducated local, Paolo Aratta, Oldfield acquires an ancient Roman cameo that bears the image of Messalina, the consort of the emperor Claudius. When Aratta discovers how he has been duped, he swears revenge on Oldfield, who refuses to return the cameo or pay him a reasonable sum for it. Lucile Penrose, whom Oldfield loves, falls under Aratta’s influence, and Aratta nearly succeeds in trapping her in sham marriage. The occult plays a minor but memorable role in the novel via Jinradasa, a mysterious Hindu acquaintance of Oldfield and Brush. Jinradasa uses hypnosis to interrogate a police prisoner, and in the penultimate chapter, he immerses Aratta in a trance in which Aratta finds himself in an exotic temple, has his blood drained by a vampiric ape, and remains conscious but unable to speak or move as he is burned alive. This section of the novel is quite good, but the rest of the book is routine melodrama. - Boyd White. Some age darkening to text block, stain spots to upper front cover, spine a bit age darkened with some stain spots, rear cover soiled and somewhat stained, a good copy. (21141). Item #21141

Price: $75.00

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