Murder, obsessive love, implacable hate, secrets, lies, and other noirish things heighten and tighten a suspenseful debut.
In Droughton, a small town near Minneapolis, it was common knowledge that Will Dunby had stepped up in class when he married Sandy Cross. She could have had her pick, even Will acknowledged, but she’d reached across the tracks to pick him and, since he adored her, he was everlastingly grateful. It wasn’t just that Sandy had money, though she did, in abundance, in keeping with the way she seemed to have everything: looks, brains, an innate sweetness and, Will would have sworn, an inviolable goodness, which is why it hurt so much when he found out about her affair. He found out only when Sandy told him, explaining also that it was over but not telling him why it had had to begin, insisting that she herself could only guess wildly. After a rocky patch, the couple reconciled, and on the night of the accident Will had reason to believe the marriage had been redeemed. Accident? Well, that’s what Will thought it was on first learning that Sandy’s car had gone over a bluff into the river, but the police were convinced—and then Will was, too—that the plunge had been intentional. But why? Shaken, dismayed, Will asked the question repeatedly, deciding at length he had no choice but to widen his search for answers. As Sandy lingered, comatose, Will investigated, but the more he discovered the more he realized that his wife had been a mystery. Not only to him, but to others as well, some who loved her, some who hated her, and one who did both.
A few plot-holes here and there, but on balance a promising performance, reminiscent, in interesting ways, of Father Noir’s (James M. Cain’s) Double Indemnity.