Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book, Friday, May 24, 2013

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).

Sergio Angelini, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TURK, Jakob Arjouni
Joe Barone, NOBODY'S PERFECT, Donald E. Westlake
Les Blatt, FATAL DESCENT, John Dickson Carr
Brian Busby, TAN MING, Lan Stormont
Bill Crider, BLACKBURN, Bradley Denton                                                                                                                                   
Scott Cupp, LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE , Joe McKiney and Michael McCarty
EARTHMAN'S BURDEN, Poul Anderson, Gordon Dickson
Martin Edwards, MURDER ISN'T EASY, Richard Hull
Curt Evans, THIRTEEN MEN, Tiffany Thayer
Randy Johnson, TRACE, Warren Murphy
George Kelley, DEADLY WELCOME, John D.MacDonald
Margot Kinberg, WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, Jonathan Kellerman
Kate Laity, LADYKILLER, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Evan Lewis, THE SHADOW IN TRAIL OF VENGEANCE, Walter Gibson                                                                                                                                 
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, THE LYING LADIES, Robert Finnegan
Todd Mason, FREE ZONE and TENDER LOVING RAGE, Charles Platt  
Neer, NIGHT SCREAMS, Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg
J.F. Norris, THIRTEEN WOMEN, TIffany Thayer
Gerard Saylor, THE BIRDMAN, Mo Hayder
Ron Scheer, THE SPELL OF THE YUKON, Robert W. Service
Michael Slind
Kerrie Smith, ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, Agatha Christie
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, THEY LOVE NOT POISON, Sara Woods
TomCat, TRICKS, Ed McBain
James Winter, GERALD'S GAME, Stephen King
Zybahn, WINTER CRIMES 8 edited by Hilary Watson


George said...

I have several Elisabeth Sanxay Holding novels. I'll read a couple this summer after reading your review.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Holding is emerging from obscurity. I think she is the pre-eminent writer of women's lives in mid-century America.


K. A. Laity said...

Funny, I did Holding as well:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Chandler regarded her as one of the best writers period.

Anonymous said...

Never read it but I did see both movie versions - James Mason & Joan Bennett in the first and Tilda Swinton & Goran Visnjic in the second.

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It's on TCM in July. they send an email reminder, thank god.

Charles Gramlich said...

Goes to show that in the hands of a skilled writer, suspense can be found anywhere.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I recently read Holding's THE GIRL WHO HAD TO DIE and was really impressed with her skill.

Gerard said...

There was a recent online mention about either the Holding novel or the first film version. Maybe on Mason's Tuesday list.

J F Norris said...

Major problems with $%^&*#ing Blogger today. My post is finally up after a series of maddening glitches. Link is below.

Thirteen Women by Tiffany Thayer

Brian Busby said...

I first saw The Reckless Moment a couple of years ago, after it was mentioned in John's Pretty Sinister Books blog.

I'm pleased to discover that it's still posted in its entirety on YouTube. The first part is here.

"Just the thing for a wet afternoon," I once wrote. I stand by those words.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is on TCM in July. I hope to watch it there. And THE DEEP END is easier still.

Frank Loose said...

Stark House Press released a double or hers several years ago and has a new one coming out this year featuring THE UNFINISHED CRIME, and THE GIRL WHO HAD TO DIE. Greg Shepard, the editor of SHC, has always been a big fan of hers.

Anonymous said...

OK, I ordered an Academy Chicago two-in-one volume of this one and THE INNOCENT MRS. DUFF.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks as always for including my post :-)

Ron Scheer said...

An overdue thanks for FFB. Gotta be a labor of love.