Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 1950s
Sarah Weinman (editor)
Library of America, Sep 1 2015, $70.00
“The Blunderer” by Patricia Highsmith. Mentally worn out by his spouse Clara’s neurosis, Walter’s dreams of her death; which makes him the suspect when she dies in the identical manner of uxoricide victim Helen.
“Mischief” by Charlotte Armstrong. They innocently leave their nine years old child with a dangerously insane babysitter.
“Beast in View” by Margaret Millar. Thirtyish, affluent Helen has no friends except the captivating, yet threatening stranger on the phone.
“Fools’ Gold” by Dolores Hitchens. Juvies Skip, Karen and Eddie plan a heist, but the pros learn of their scheme.
“Laura” by Vera Caspary. NYPD detective McPherson investigates the murder of the faceless body of Laura, but also obsesses over the woman’s portrait.
“The Horizontal Man” by Helen Eustis. The murder of the professor frightens the English Department who intellectualize the killing especially when a student confesses.
“In a Lonely Place” by Dorothy B. Hughes. In post WWII, Steele rapes and murders women; but the former USAF pilot is careful until he meets Laurel.
“The Blank Wall” by Elisabeth Sanxay. During WWII while her husband serves in the Navy Lucia discovers her teenage daughter’s affair with a sleaze; she takes action to protect her cub, but what she did leads to blackmail.
These are eight excellent suspense dramas that give readers a sense of time and place within taut thrillers. Part of the fun is comparing the novels to the movie versions based on them.