The Mystery of the Ravenspurs relates the mortal peril faced by a family of ancient lineage residing in a castle within sight of the British coast. Despite undertaking all possible precautions, their members began dying "mysteriously, horribly, until at last no more than seven of the family remained..." At this point, the son of whom the patriach of the family has not spoken for twenty years returns home blinded and hideously scarred after seeking esoteric knowledge in Tibet with a Russian friend, both of them having been caught and tortured for their attempt. They join with the family to thwart further attempts at murdering its members in a tale replete with such colourful trimmings as secret passages, sightings of mysterious Indians, poisoned flowers, infernal machines, and murderous Tibetan black bees for a start. What do these constant attacks mean? Who's trying to wipe out the entire family and why?
My verdict: For a novel published in 1911 it's grimmer than many dating from that era, even with its occasional little dashes of romance. The narration trots along well as it catalogues hair-raising escapes amid moves by, and counter-moves against, whoever is responsible for the mayhem as the actors in the drama attempt to make sense of the murderous situation. It reminded me somewhat of the more colourful works of Sax Rohmer or Edgar Wallace, so if you like their fiction you'll probably enjoy this one as well.