So this is one of those kinds of novels from the 1950s that we kind of still get but don’t as much any more where the kinds of domestic utopian bliss that the lies of the 1950s post-war American society is built upon is disrupted in severe, violent, and drastic ways. This domesticity is disrupted and it’s very clear from now on that nothing will ever be the same. So in this novel we meet Helen Clervoe who receives what is not clear may or may not be a prank call. When she asks a male friend to investigate what opens up is a series of increasingly more dangerous and violent circumstance that wrenches open the underbelly of a world Helen never never knew existed.
I think for the most part this book is interesting and successful at building that tension between the world that was and the world that will be based on the irruption in the fabric of that existing space. It’s also about the world of civility and sociality, and the underworld, and of course the false notion that there’s all that much difference between the two, especially when you’re assailing middle class values and deficiencies. I mean, I feel like my life is pretty normal and more or less based upon normalcy, so the underworld of my life wouldn’t involve these particular dark sides. Even the most normal of us is one wrongful death/negligence incident away from complete disaster, so while the details of the world itself might change, the inherent fear lying in wait in a stable life is familiar enough.