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Mystery Monday Review – The Unsuspected

The Unsuspected by Charlotte Armstrong

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

This outstanding suspense novel from 1946 opens with nephew Francis talking to his Aunt Jane. They are contemporaries – Jane was the youngest sister of Francis’ dad – so they share a set of friends. They are discussing the apparent suicide of Francis’ fiancé Rosaleen. Neither can believe Rosaleen did away with herself in the home of a rich and famous radio and theater producer named Luther “Grandy” Grandison who employed her as a secretary and accountant.

They reluctantly conclude that Grandy might have murdered her so this novel is more ‘howdunnit’ than ‘whodunnit.’ I don’t want to give away the twists that complicate their gathering of evidence that proves Grandy as the perp. But I can say that a love angle makes things lively too. The smooth writing makes us shrug over the improbabilities. The climax is a winner, in a unique setting, with the scales falling from the heroine’s eyes and her rising to the occasion to save her sweetie, in a nod to tried and true Gothic tradition.

Readers of a certain age will no doubt recognize the style of the cover. When Dark Shadows made Gothic cool, lots of book covers imitated the look. Young heroine. Walking the grounds of remote creepy mansion. Full moon shining through leafless trees. But though this novel has Gothic elements, it really isn’t a Gothic.

As a page-turner of a suspense novel, it is not surprising that it was a best-seller in its time. So much so that it was made into a movie in 1947. One of the first film noir movies, it was directed by heavy-hitter Michael Curtiz and starred a well-cast as Grandy Claude Rains, best known as The Invisible Man and the oily shocked shocked police inspector in Casablanca.

How can a writer who could write a tour de force like this thriller be so neglected today? Luckily she is very well represented here at PBS, with piles of novels up for ordering. Go to it! Enjoy!

 

Below are some of Charlotte Armstrong’s books that are currently available to order. Click on the cover image to be taken to the book information page on PBS.

       

 

 

 

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One Response to “Mystery Monday Review – The Unsuspected”

  1. […] America. I read another of her suspense novels, a ‘howdunnit’ called The Unsuspected (my review is here), which I also highly recommend though it is as unclassifiable as this […]

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