Behind a Mask

SHORT REVIEWS: BOOKS

by Louisa May Alcott. Morrow, $8.95.
Before she finally hit the bull’s-eye with Little Women, Louisa Alcott published a number of thrillers under a pseudonym. Madeleine Stern, with the help of Leona Rostenberg, has unearthed these gothic potboilers, and four are included in this volume. Ms. Stern’s introduction is useful, reconstructing the history of the stories’ publication and pointing out the testy feminist undercurrent which runs through all of them. What she does not point out is a bit of larceny by Miss Alcott. The heroine of Behind a Mask is Becky Sharp, triumphant. The stories, incidentally, are still readable.