“Have you ever heard of a Jonah? Someone who brings trouble, bad luck, wherever she goes?”
Sarah Shepherd isn’t the type to draw attention to herself. Older than most of her college classmates, she sits quietly in the back row, hiding shyly behind her glasses. Sarah can’t hide her intelligence, though, and the thoughtfulness of her writing inspires history professor David Wakeley to seek her out. It’s a bigger challenge than he expects.
David learns why she is so desperate to avoid human contact: Sarah is convinced she is a jinx. Ever since the war, catastrophe has befallen everyone around her. The only way to keep others safe is by keeping away from them. David feels he must help Sarah, before her life is destroyed by what must certainly be a delusion. The dangers that threaten Sarah are all too real, however, and for once the professor doesn’t have all the answers. Continue reading “The Better to Eat You (1954) by Charlotte Armstrong”
“Death and destruction,” murmured Mr. Gibson, “in small packages.”
A man bent on suicide smuggles poison out of his neighbor’s lab, only to absent-mindedly misplace it. Now a deadly poison is lost in the city—odorless, tasteless, and disguised as an innocent bottle of olive oil. To find the missing bottle, Kenneth Gibson must expose his most shameful secrets to his friends and family, but as the hunt continues, a number of hidden truths emerge. Can this ragtag group retrieve the poison before it’s too late? Continue reading “A Dram of Poison (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong”
“He’s the devil. How can we fight the devil? That tongue of his, the power of it! He molds the thoughts in people’s heads with his tongue, Jane. Their brains melt. He makes them think what he wants them to think. They’re all his puppets. And he’s the great director. Look at him now. He’s killed twice, committed two murders, and everybody is down there weeping for him.”
They say money can’t buy happiness, and Mathilda Frazier is the living proof. First her fiancé Oliver jilts her days before the wedding, to marry her poor but beautiful cousin, Althea. She goes on a cruise to try and forget, only to be reported dead after a shipwreck. When she finally returns home months later, a handsome stranger is waiting on the dock. He says he’s her husband. Mathilda is sure she’s never seen him before.
At least she has Grandy. Her guardian Luther Grandison loves her even if she is, as he keeps reminding her, an ugly duckling. Mathilda has never really thought about whose money is paying for Grandy’s luxurious lifestyle. It’s never occurred to her that he might have been happier with her dead.
Continue reading “The Unsuspected (1945) by Charlotte Armstrong”
There was a little story. I knew there had to be.
Charlotte Armstrong’s most distinctive quality as an author is her clear-eyed but unshakable faith in humanity—certainly a rare perspective in crime fiction. Though she was capable of terrible darkness, the quintessential Armstrong plot involves the prevention of wrongdoing rather than its investigation and ends with the characters learning that they can be better people with just a little effort.
Continue reading “I See You (1956) by Charlotte Armstrong”