INTO THE NIGHT by Cornell with Lawrence Block Woolrich


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Like many of Woolrich's famous, influential suspense-noir novels, this posthumous work--set in the early 1960's, left nearly complete at his death in 1968--involves wild psychological obsession, outlandish coincidences, and bizarre twists. Unlike prime Woolrich, however, this lacks the narrative drive and atmospheric power needed to invest those far-fetched elements with nightmarish conviction. Madeline, the novel's shadowy heroine, decides not to commit suicide in the book's opening scene--but when she tosses the gun aside, it fires accidentally, sending a bullet out the open window, killing an innocent passerby! Wracked by guilt, Madeline learns the dead woman's identity--she was pretty young Starr Bartlett--and vows to ""live for Starr."" How? Well, via some sleuthing, Madeline learns that Starr had two ambitions: 1) to kill her ex-husband Vick; and 2) to get even with Vick's first wife, singer Adelaide, who was responsible (in some mysterious way) for the angry breakup of Starr's marriage. So, in episodes reminiscent of The Bride Wore Black and The Black Angel, Madeline befriends and betrays Adelaide, with lethal results; then, searching for Vick, she just happens to encounter a homicidal maniac; and finally, finding Vick, she tries to kill him but falls in love with him instead--even after she knows the Terrible Secret (which most readers will have guessed early on) of his marriage to Starr. Madeline lacks the firm, fierce motivation of Woolrich's 1940's Vengeance Women--whose schemes were also far more ingenious. The plot's lurching implausibilities are compounded by comically stilted dialogue and overwrought prose. So, despite sporadic glimmers of Woolrich's creepily persuasive imagination, this is--along with the informative but hyperbolic afterword by Francis M. Nevins, Jr.--primarily for intense Woolrich fans and serious students of the genre.

Pub Date: July 9th, 1987
Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine