A reminder that June 28 is Elmore Leonard day on FFB. Feel free to join in. I will post any reviews from those without blogs.
THE BLANK WALL, Elisabeth Xanxay Holding.
Elisabeth Sanxay Holding has been recommended on FFB many times and I finally got my hands on two of her books after Megan raved over them too. In THE BLANK WALL, Lucia Holley's husband is away fighting during WW 2, and she is in charge of her aging father and two children. Bee, the seventeen year old, has become involved with an older man (Ted Darby) who manages to put off Lucia on their first meeting, and a few pages later, he turns up dead in the water. Lucia believes her father is responsible and sets out on a course to protect her family.
Ted Darby’s nefarious associates soon turn up, with material to blackmail Lucia. Lucia suddenly becomes plunged into a world she knows nothing about. Her focus throughout, however, is not on how to save own reputation or life, but those of her family. She gives no thought to her own safety as she does what she believes will save them. She has help from her maid, Sibyl, who knows more of the world than her mistress and is also a keen observer. Both children dismiss their mother as unworldly, dull, and incompetent even as she works to keep them from harm's way. Their scorn for her is sadly but truthfully observed. Clearly Holding was a first -rate observer of what the lives of women were like at the time. Married women were seen as little more than children. As the story progresses, Lucia's strength grows and she becomes more savy in her problem solving.
Parts of this book were quite amusing. One of the scoundrels becomes quite taken with Lucia and tries to help her as much as he can. But mostly, it was terrifically suspenseful and the pages turned quickly. This is more a character study than a classic crime novel and I think that is what Holding wrote early in her career. She turned to suspense novels to make a living when the need arose and was highly successful. This s novel was twice adapted for the screen. (RECKLESS MOMENT and THE DEEP END).
Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 125 stories that have appeared online, in print journals and in various anthologies. She is the author of two ebooks, MONKEY JUSTICE and HOME INVASION and co-editor of DISCOUNT NOIR. She won a Derringer award for her story "My Hero." She lives outside Detroit.
Polis Books, 2015
An atmospheric and eagerly awaited debut novel from acclaimed crime writer Patricia Abbott, set in Philadelphia in the 1970s about a family torn apart by a mother straight out of Mommie Dearest, and her children who are at first victims but soon learn they must fight back to survive. Eve Moran has always wanted “things” and has proven both inventive and tenacious in getting and keeping them. Eve lies, steals, cheats, swindles, and finally commits murder, paying little heed to the cost of her actions on those who love her. Her daughter, Christine, compelled by love, dependency, and circumstance, is caught up in her mother’s deceptions, unwilling to accept the viciousness that runs in her mother's blood. Eve’s powers of seduction are hard to resist for those who come in contact with her toxic allure. It’s only when Christine’s three-year old brother, Ryan, begins to prove useful to her mother, and she sees a pattern repeating itself, that Christine finds the courage and means to bring an end to Eve’s tyranny.