Edgar Project - Beast in View

For anyone who loves to read, finding a great new author with a nice fat backlist is nirvana. My first find of the year was the amazing Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. Thanks to Lists of Bests I've found another gem: Margaret Millar.

Margaret Millar's Beast in View won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1956 and it took only 5 pages for me to understand why. This is a smart, suspenseful, psychological thriller/mystery. Helen Clarvoe is an unhappy heiress - trapped in the luxury suite she's occupied at a Los Angeles hotel for nearly a year. Helen has been barring her door in more ways than one for years  so when she receives a threatening phone call from an unknown woman she finds she is so isolated that she has no one she can turn to for help. No one except her money manager, Paul Blackshear.

The rest of this short novel speeds along as Blackshear, at first reluctantly, tries to find out who is threatening Helen and why. Millar paints several impressive character portraits of Helen, her self-absorbed Mother, Blackshear and others. The ending is a shocking, twist that never feels false or forced.

How has Margaret Millar has escaped my attention until now? Why isn't she as well-known as Patricia Highsmith? I can't wait to dive in to more of her work. She is an undeservedly little-known genius.

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