The Bat, Mary Roberts Rinehart
For months, the city has lived in fear of the Bat. A master criminal hindered by neither scruple nor fear, he has stolen over one million dollars and left at least six men dead. The police are helpless, the newspapers know nothing—even the key figures of the city’s underworld have no clue as to the identity of the Bat. He is a living embodiment of death itself, and he is coming to the countryside. There, he will encounter the only person who can stop him: adventurous sixty-five-year-old spinster Cornelia Van Gorder. Last in a long line of New York society royalty, Cornelia has found old age to be a bore, and is hungry for a bit of adventure. She’s going to find it—in a lonely old country house where every shadow could be the Bat.
The Bat is a three-act play first produced in 1920. The play originated as an adaptation of Rinehart's 1908 mystery novel The Circular Staircase.
The Bat was a critical and commercial success. It ran for 867 performances in New York and 327 performances in London; several road companies took the show to other areas. The play was revived twice on Broadway, in 1937 and 1953. It had several adaptations, including this 1926 novelization credited to Rinehart and Hopwood but was in fact ghostwritten by Stephen Vincent Benet. Three film adaptations were produced: The Bat (1926), The Bat Whispers (1930), and The Bat (1959). The play and its adaptations inspired other comedy-mysteries with similar settings, and influenced the creation of the comic-book superhero Batman.
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