29 April 2010

Top mysteries challenge review: Beast in View by Margaret Millar

When reading up on Millar, it was a fun little discovery to find that she was Ross MacDonald’s wife, which, unless I am mistaken, makes them the only married couple on the MWA list.

Year of publication: 1955
Genre: Psychological thriller
Setting & time: Los Angeles, USA, contemporary

A rich young woman who lives alone is startled by a threatening voice on the phone and turns for help to the only person she trusts, her stockbroker. He begins to investigate, but before the voice’s owner is caught, she has spread mayhem and death all around her.

The writing style of this story is plain and straightforward, but the plotting is excellent and the way the characters are drawn is quite good, even if they do run somewhat to stereotypes. The story gives a believable description of a woman who is spiralling into madness, her obsessions and how they make her lose control. The plot twists are unpredictable and the ending a shocker, although in retrospective there were subtle clues hidden in the narrative, so Millar did play fair with the reader, even thought this isn’t exactly a mystery.

Rating: A excellent shocking psycho-thriller. 4 stars.

Books left in challenge: 82

Place on the list(s): CWA #75; MWA #79
Awards and nominations: The Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel, 1956

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