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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich

The Bride Wore Black - William Irish, Cornell Woolrich

The first suspense novel in Woolrich's "Black Series."

Cunningly conceived tale of revenge and rough justice; the opening quotation from Guy de Maupassant has you rooting for the murderess before you've even met her. Ah, but then we meet her, and she's so beautiful, so clever, so efficient--so deliciously dark--that our admiration and affection for her grow, even as she takes out one seemingly average man after another. We trust her.

Julie Bailey is one of the great women of suspense fiction. I didn't much care for Andrew Vachss' novel Strega, but I thank Vachss for his "quotation" (he seems to have made it up himself) from "Married Woman Blues":

Did you ever love a married woman?
The kind so good that she just has to be true.
That means true to her husband, boy,
And not a damn thing left for you.

As Vachss points out, that isn't Strega. But it's Julie Bailey, all right. And the only thing she's got for the five men who killed her husband and got away with it is a violent death.

Of course, in the end, there's more to all this than meets the eye. There's the genius of Woolrich's construction, for one thing, the way he isolates each killing and takes the time to introduce us to each of the victims; the way he shows us how Julie gets close enough to them to make the killings personal; and even the way he closes out each section with the cop who's going nuts trying to figure out what's happening and why. It's a wonderful design that resonates backward when all questions are answered at the end--except those we're left asking ourselves.