TALES FOR A STORMY NIGHT: The Collected Crime Stories by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

TALES FOR A STORMY NIGHT: The Collected Crime Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen stories, 1952-1983--mostly from the pages of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, mostly in Davis' slightly labored psycho-crime style. In ""Spring Fever,"" a neglected wife is strangely attracted to the elderly widower next door, with fatal results. Other early stories center on obsessive family relationships: near-incestuous brother/sister or father/daughter tensions--leading to ugly triangles and murder. In ""A Matter of Public Notice,"" a series of woman-killings challenges a local cop--whose own marital crisis seems to have psychological parallels with the murder-madness. And two stories, ""By the Scruff of the Soul"" and ""Natural Causes,"" are oddly lighthearted treatments of psychosexual homicides perpetrated by kinkily man-hungry spinsters--modeled, says Davis in an introduction, on her own Aunt Mary. When steering clear of psychopathology, as in the whimsical ""The Purple is Everything"" (about an impromptu art theft and the somewhat silly aftermath), Davis can be a low-pressure entertainer. Most of the pieces here, however, are less-than-convincing, mildly portentous studies--with more texture in the rural-Minnesota backgrounds than the variously disturbed characters.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1984
Publisher: Countryman