Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s: Mischief / The Blunderer / Beast in View / Fools' Gold (Library of America)
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The Library of America and editor Sarah Weinman redefine the classic era of American crime fiction with a landmark collection of four brilliant novels by the female pioneers of the genre, the women who paved the way for Gillian Flynn, Tana French, and Lisa Scottoline.
Though women crime and suspense writers dominate today’s bestseller lists, the extraordinary work of the mid-century pioneers of the genre is largely unknown. Turning in many cases from the mean streets of the hardboiled school to explore the anxieties and terrors lurking in everyday life, these groundbreaking novelists found the roots of fear and violence in a quiet suburban neighborhood, on a college campus, or in a comfortable midtown hotel. Their work, influential in its day and still vibrant and extraordinarily riveting today, is long overdue for rediscovery. This volume, the second of a two-volume collector’s set, gathers four classic works that together reveal the vital and unacknowledged lineage to today’s leading crime writers. From the 1950s here are Charlotte Armstrong’s Mischief, the nightmarish drama of a child entrusted to a psychotic babysitter, Patricia Highsmith’s The Blunderer, brilliantly tracking the perverse parallel lives of two men driven toward murder, Margaret Millar’s Beast in View, a relentless study in madness, and Dolores Hitchens’s Fools' Gold, a hard-edged tale of robbery and redemption.
tonight that he should have explained, he thought, or should be explaining. What rendered him speechless was that he couldn’t even tell her that it would be different one day, that he had any plans at all where she was concerned. “It’d be nice some time if we’d coincide—about the way we feel,” she said, giving him a sidelong look. But she smiled and there was humor in the smile. “So—Boadicea and I’ll be going home.” “I wish you wouldn’t.” “I’d rather.” She was gathering up her pocketbook and
of money.” “That’s my business.” “Money is a great responsibility. I might be able to help you.” “Thank you, I don’t require any help.” “You may soon.” “Then I shall deal with the problem myself, without help from any stranger.” “Stranger?” There was a rasp of annoyance in the repetition. “You said you remembered me.” “I was merely trying to be polite.” “Polite. Always the lady, eh, Clarvoe? Or pretending to be. Well, one of these days you’ll remember me with a bang. One of these days
over Douglas, well, all right, I can undersand that, I’ve had a few griefs of my own. But why should she take it out on Evelyn of all people? My daughter has never hurt anyone in her life, it’s so unfair that she should be attacked like this. She isn’t here to defend herself, but I am. I’m here. And don’t try and stop me this time, Mr. Blackshear. I’m going to see Verna Clarvoe.” He watched her go into the house. The two women faced each other in silence for a long time. “If you’ve come for an
they fall,” Skip pronounced. He was peering ahead to the corner where the side street entered the main boulevard from Pasadena. Suddenly he chucked Eddie in the ribs. “Hey, there’s the chick now!” His tone had taken on a certain confidential excitement. A girl of around seventeen sat on the bench at the bus stop. She had a couple of books in her lap, one open between her hands, and her head was bent over it, the book slanted so that its pages caught the last thin light from the sky. Her hair was
wheel with his left hand and set the watch at his best guess, 7:05, and wound it. There should be a rest stop in about half an hour, he thought. The road climbed and curved. Walter had to slow down as the bus shifted gears for the hill. Far away on the left, Walter saw the lights of a town. He did not know where he was. Then the bus slowed on the crest of a hill, and Walter slowed. He saw the bus turn abruptly left, and Walter tensed anxiously because the bus looked as if it were going to keep