Read as part of CBR11 Bingo: Award winner. This book won the 1957 Edgar Award for best Mystery work.
This book edged out Patricia Highsmith’s legendary The Talented Mr. Ripley for the 1957 Edgar Award. Both of them are more psychological thrillers than mysteries. Both were written by world class female crime writers, maybe 1 and 1a of the genre.
Yet while Patricia Highsmith’s work has endured (she’s the only woman whose works have been republished by the Everyman’s Library), Millar’s were largely forgotten for decades. This is likely due to two things: 1. Being unfairly overshadowed by her husband Kenneth Millar (aka Ross Macdonald) and 2. Her volume of worked dead ended in 1970 and by the time she started writing again in the 80s, her name had lost its luster. Some writers got a second life through Vintage Crime/Black Lizard reprints but it doesn’t seem like she was one.
And that’s a shame because, as in my review of Dorothy Hughes, she predates the Gillian Flynn era of the female-written and female-driven psycho thriller. And their books are much better than what we get today. I wouldn’t put Beast in View ahead of The Talented Mr. Ripley but it’s a damn good book in its own right, worthy of awards.
This one is twisted and like the best thrillers, it left me feeling physically uncomfortable at times. There are few likable characters. But it is a humane thriller that gets to the tension of trying to understand why people do the things they do.
I really can’t say more about the plot without spoiling so two more thoughts…
- I’ve written before about how much I hate the “tragic homosexuality” trope so if that one is not your bag or is triggering, give this a hard pass.
- The twist may be obvious but it’s not the twist that makes the novel, it’s how Millar gets us there. And that in and of itself was worth the price fo admission for me.