Before the Fact: Inspired Hitchhock's Masterpiece Suspicion
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Arcturus Crime Classics showcase unjustly neglected works by great writers from the 1930s—the so-called golden age of crime writing—through to the 1970s. From conventional whodunnits to slick thrillers, the series encompasses every facet of this ever-popular genre.
Described on its first publication in 1932 as "one of the finest studies of murder ever written", Before the Fact tells the tale of wealthy but plain Lina Mclaidlaw, who marries the charming and feckless Johnny Aysgarth against the advice of her father. Lina is certain she can change him for the better, until she is forced to acknowledge that he is a compulsive liar, a crook and a murderer. But still she loves him, while fearing she will inevitably become one of his victims.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Francis Iles was a pseudonym of Anthony Berkeley Cox, who was born in 1893 in Watford. After serving in the army during the First World War, Berkeley worked as a journalist for many years before his first foray into the crime genre with The Layton Court Mystery (1925).
His two primary nom-de-plumes were Francis Iles and Anthony Berkeley. As the former, he was a master of the psychological suspense genre, always with a wry humorous tenor to his writing; as the latter he acted as a trailblazer in the classic ‘Golden Age’ of crime and detective novels.
An intensely private man who always shunned public attention, Berkeley died in 1971.
simply couldn’t make head or tail of it – and I don’t believe he could either. I’m quite sure your brother-in-law will agree with me: Aldous Huxley is no good.” Lina murmured something noncommittal, wondering vaguely why Lady Fortnum should think it necessary to wear a diamond pendant as big as a broad bean at a tennis party. Her companion’s views on Mr. Aldous Huxley did not surprise her. She had long since ceased to be distressed by the calm dogmatizing upon artistic subjects which takes the
Johnnie was explaining his racing system to Lina. She had never seen him so excited over anything before. “Surely you can see it must win in the end,” he pleaded. “You’ve been trying this system how long?” Lina asked wearily. “About six months. Look here, monkeyface, you must realize—” “Ever since we came back from France?” “Pretty well. It came out trumps at first, but—” “Although you’d promised me you wouldn’t bet any more?” “Oh, well.” Johnnie smiled away the seriousness of such a
decided that he could be very well rid of an elderly mauve suit which she had never very much liked and which she was quite sure Johnnie had not worn for at least two years. She took it off its hanger, and felt in the pockets. There was an equally elderly handkerchief in the breast pocket, and nothing else at all but a little cheap black notebook in one of the side pockets of the coat. Lina opened it idly, to see whether Johnnie would want it preserved or whether it could be thrown away. Most of
What? Here, I say, don’t stand out here. Too parky, what?” “I’m quite all right,” Lina smiled. “And when are we going to see you again, Beaky?” “What, me? God knows. I mean.... Oh, I’ll tootle along sometime, I expect. Depends when you ask me, doesn’t it? What? Eh?” Beaky evidently considered this a joke and paid tribute to it heartily. Something said clearly in Lina’s mind: “You’ll never see Beaky again. Never! Unless ...” The blood drained from her face. She stared at him. A terrible
She and Johnnie were cut off once more on a desert island of murder. But this time it was her murder. What could she do? What would Johnnie do? Supposing he leant across her, opened the door, and with all his strength threw her out of it, so that she fell on her head in the road ... and then he came back with the car, and drove over her ... and left her ... Frantically she tried to decide what she would do if Johnnie did that. There was a strap on the upright to which the door was hinged. She