RARA-AVIS: Re: Woolrich and a couple other recent purchases

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 12 Jun 2008

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, DJ-Anonyme@... wrote:
> Found a stack of Woolriches in a used bookstore today, picked up every
> one. I suppose I could go into the archives and reread entries from the
> recent Woolrich month, but I'm lazy. So would anyone like to recommend
> any of these more highly than others:
> Night Has A Thousand Eyes (as Hopley)
> I Married A Dead Man (as Irish)
> Phantom Lady (as Irish)
> Rear Window and Four Short Novels
> The Black Path of Fear
> The Black Curtain
> Rendezvous in Black
> The Bride Wore Black (which I've read)
> Vampire's Honeymoon
As I've said several times on this list, Rendezvous in Black is my favorite Woolrich. Similar outline/arch to Bride but better detail and execution. I don't recall precisely the four short novels with Rear Window but (IIRC) that was more of a "best" collection than the more recent Vampire's Honeymoon, which was a bit more of the scrapping the bottom. If my memory is correct then, the Rear Window collection would be next on my list. Woolrich mixed and mingled short stories from collection to collection and from one byline to another. It was hard to keep up and even Woolrich experts Fred Dannay and Hans Santesson ended up buying as new stories that had appeared before. Oddly enough, some of his stronger shorter stories came late in his career. The opposite was true of his novels.

Phantom Lady has lost some luster because of the many, many imitations that have come along in the last 66 years but it still packed some power when I read it and it certainly maintained a fast pace. Night Has a Thousand Eyes would be my next choice. I never got into I Married...something put me off.

I wouldn't recommend reading more than three Woolrich books in a row unless you have a Suicide Hotline on your speed dial. Many years ago I loaned a Woolrich novel to a close friend of mine who was a big mystery fan and wanted to sample more of the field. He eventually sold his own novel. But his default mood was a bit down and he could sink into some black holes. He practically threw the book at me when he returned it saying that he didn't care what name the book might be published under, he never wanted to read another one by Woolrich.

He was a bit extreme but I commonly follow a real downer with a Wodehouse or one of Westlake's humorous novels.

Richard Moore

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