Black Alibi

July 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm (Crime novel, Roman noir, Suspense, Thriller) (, )

Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich

Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich

Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1942
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
205 pages
Genre:
suspense, roman noir, crime fiction

Synopsis & Review:Americans Jerry Manning and Kiki Walker have relocated to the South American city of Ciudad Real, finally meeting with success; she’s become a local entertainer of some fame, and he’s her agent/manager. To further fan the flames of the public’s interest in Kiki, Jerry brings her a tame black jaguar, insisting that she take it out on a leash for the photo opportunities. She makes a sensation at a local restaurant, but then someone startles the creature, and it escapes, terrifying the restaurant goers and making a fool of Kiki. The jaguar disappears into the city, giving rise to rumors as the local gendarmes unsuccessfully try to track it down.

As rumors about the jaguar and its possibly supernatural powers inundate Ciudad Real, teenage Teresa Delgado is forced by her mother into the darkening city to fetch charcoal. Frightened by the rumors, Teresa tries to refuse, but her mother is insistent. Teresa first tries their local bodega, but it’s just closed, so she takes a long, heavily shadowed route under the viaduct to another, managing to catch the owner and purchase the charcoal for her family. Nearly paralyzed by fear, she wends her way back through the dark passage, hunted by something almost unseen, making it to the very door of her home, where her mother ignores her terrified cries. When the door is finally opened, nothing is left of Teresa but torn flesh and blood. It seems obvious to all that Teresa was attacked by the jaguar, and police captain Robles summons Manning to the morgue to show him what his foolishness has wrought.     click for the rest of Black Alibi!

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The Black Angel

May 17, 2009 at 11:45 pm (Crime novel, Roman noir, Suspense, Thriller) (, )

The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich

The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich

Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1943
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
238 pages
Genre: roman noir

Synopsis & Review: Alberta Murray’s husband calls her “Angel Face,” or he did. He just calls her Alberta now. She’s caught a few lies from him, too, and seen him with another woman’s powder compact. And then one day his other suit is missing. And Alberta finds his bag packed and ready to go. Instead of sinking into misery at his defection, however, Alberta suits up and goes to confront The Other Woman—only to find her dead, smothered in her boudoir, with only a matchbook cover to hint that someone else had been there. Returning home, she tries to call her husband, to warn him away from the murder scene, but is too late. The circumstances all point to Murray as the killer, and he is convicted on that circumstantial evidence, and sentenced to the chair. Convinced of his innocence, Alberta begins searching The Other Woman’s acquaintance for a name that matches that on the matchbook cover she found, a search that will take her all over New York City. In her pursuit of the killer, Alberta will travel the city’s seedy underbelly, visiting the Bowery’s flophouses, seeing firsthand the sordid world of narcotics, even working as a showgirl in a mobster-owned club. None of the lives she insinuates herself into will be the same once she’s done with them, and as Alberta hunts, leaving shattered lives in her wake, so too does she change, into something rich and strange. click here to continue reading about The Black Angel

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Rendezvous in Black

May 15, 2009 at 12:58 am (Crime novel, Roman noir, Suspense, Thriller) (, )

Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich

Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich

Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich
Originally published 1948
Ballantine, 1st printing, 1982
212 pages
Genre: roman noir

Synopsis & Review: A quiet night in a small Midwestern town. A boy and girl in love, mere weeks before their wedding. And a terrible freak accident. Without his girl, Johnny Marr is adrift in an ocean of uncaring strangers, passively waiting for her return. When pushed out of his intertia, however, Johnny Marr vows to them pay. The people responsible for the death of his girl will suffer along with him, by losing the people they most love.

A fascinating reprisal of Woolrich’s Avenging Angel theme, Rendezvous in Black casts a male in the role occupied by Julie Killeen in The Bride Wore Black, and demonstrates his mastery of the genre. This is one of his best, with a relentless pace that makes it difficult–if not impossible–to put down. Most startling and fascinating is Johnny Marr’s transformation from piteous victim into monstrous golem. Readers will experience a shocking and disorienting emotional 180, and find themselves rooting against Johnny and for the detective Cameron, hoping against hope that just one of Johnny’s innocent victims will survive. click here to read more about Rendezvous in Black

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Fright

May 4, 2009 at 6:54 pm (Crime novel, Roman noir, Suspense, Thriller) (, , )

Fright by Cornell Woolrich

Fright by Cornell Woolrich

Fright by Cornell Woolrich (originally George Hopley)
Originally published 1950
Hard Case Crime, 1st printing, 2007
254 pages
Genre: noir, crime

Synopsis & Review: Prescott Marshall is on the verge of marrying his ideal woman: beautiful, wealthy, and above all, socially well connected. He has a fine job in New York, the greatest city in the world, and has everything to look forward to. Until he commits an indiscretion shortly before his wedding, an indiscretion who returns to haunt him until he can take it no longer. After the murder, Prescott Marshall is a marked man, a hunted man, a desperate man who will do anything to hide his shame.

I was excited to get my grubby little hands on this one, the first new Woolrich I’ve read in a long time (new to me, that is). After my introduction to Woolrich by Johnny Marr’s Murder Can Be Fun ‘zine in ninth grade, I became a devotee, seeking out collections and out-of-print novels in the Hawaii State Library System, and eventually beginning my own collection with the Ballantine reprints of the 80s. Read the rest of this entry »

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