The Forbidden Garden (1962) by Ursula Curtiss

The Forbidden Garden by Ursula Curtiss

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“Wanted: Mature companion to older woman in North Valley. Pleasant surroundings. Cooking, no housework.”

All the neighbors are dying to know what makes Mrs. Marrable’s poplars grow so well in the desert. That’s just one of Claire Marrable’s secrets. After the death of her husband, she decides she would rather be a wealthy widow than a poor one. The only thing holding her back is money, but that’s easily remedied. Rich old ladies are expected to hire companions, and hired companions are often alone in the world with their savings. Mrs. Marrable’s had five companions now, and there are five poplar trees lined up in her garden, all in a row.

But the sixth companion is different. Has Mrs. Marrable finally met her match? Continue reading “The Forbidden Garden (1962) by Ursula Curtiss”

Follow, As the Night by Patricia McGerr (1950)

Follow as the Night by Pat McGerr

6 stars (6/10 stars)

“One ex-wife. One wife. One mistress. One fiancée. And no age limits. Cradle to the grave, that’s the Rock’s policy.”

Professionally, Larry Rock is on top of the world. A successful newspaper columnist, he’s just published his first book, with TV and radio deals on the horizon. It’s his personal life that’s in chaos. Larry invites the four women in his life to a party, intending that one of them will not survive the night—but which one? Continue reading “Follow, As the Night by Patricia McGerr (1950)”

Strictly a Loser (1965) by Edna Sherry

Strictly a Loser by Edna Sherry

5 Stars (5/10 stars)

“The dream could be summed up in two words: beautiful things. A home filled with richly tinted rugs, with authentic period pieces, with exquisite pie-crust tables and Duncan Phyfe chairs, with one or two fine paintings and shelves of Spode china and Steuben glass. The dream did not concern itself with electric marvels of kitchen efficiency, such as most housewives hanker for, and took little notice of clothes or cars. It concerned itself only with something she could love.”

Susan Wells has a dream, of a gracious home full of lovely furniture, all her own. Things can’t hurt her, the way her irresponsible father did. And once she has her dream house, she’ll never feel poor or shabby again. Susan isn’t beautiful, or charismatic, or even especially smart. But when she meets Harry Caldwell, her employer’s ne’er-do-well son, she sees a way to make her dream come true. Yes, Harry will give Susan her dream house…one way or another. Continue reading “Strictly a Loser (1965) by Edna Sherry”

Lady-Killer (1951) by Anthony Gilbert

Lady Killer by Anthony Gilbert 1951 book cover

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“As one man becomes an engineer and another a doctor, so Henry became a husband. It was his living. The knocking off of his various wives when they had served their purpose was part of the routine, and involved no personal dislike or revenge…It was all perfectly simple, and his conscience never gave him a twinge.”

Some men balk at marriage, but not Henry. He’s always been an eager bridegroom. First to Greta…then Beryl…then Flora.

No one is likely to notice the commonplace deaths of insignificant middle-aged women—no one except  lawyer Arthur Crook, who collects potential murders. When Sarah enters Henry’s life, it’s up to Crook to prove the truth about Henry’s career of widowhood before it’s too late. Continue reading “Lady-Killer (1951) by Anthony Gilbert”

No Walls of Jasper (1930) by Joanna Cannan

No Walls of Jasper by Joanna Cannan 1930 book cover

8 Stars (8/10 stars)

“All along Canberry Gardens, in the lighted dolls’ houses, children’s voices called good night. Julian too, setting out to murder his father, felt perfectly ordinary.”

Some would say that Julian Prebble has everything. A nice home, attractive wife, two boys, and a promising career. But Julian can’t help feeling that he doesn’t have quite enough. He shouldn’t have to live in a semi-detached house, with his wife stretching the joint to last two days. Other men of forty are farther along in life, all because their fathers died and left them the money to make a proper start. Meanwhile, his invalid father lives on and on, wasting more money every minute he’s alive.

It’s not that Julian wants his father to die. Still…wouldn’t it be convenient if he did? Continue reading “No Walls of Jasper (1930) by Joanna Cannan”

Ashes to Ashes (1919) by Isabel Ostrander

Book cover of Ashes to Ashes by Isabel Ostrander (1919)
courtesy of Paris Bibliotheques

6 stars (6/10 stars)

From these ashes would spring the phoenix, not of love, but of murder; of hatred, vengeance and the lust to kill! What had he not loosed upon the world!

One afternoon in downtown New York, Norman Storm sees a beautiful woman emerging from an office building, a chance encounter that will change his life. For the woman is his wife, Leila. Thirty-six hours later, he will beat her to death.

Ashes to Ashes is an inverted mystery, following the thoughts of Norman Storm as he suspects his beloved wife of infidelity, impulsively kills her, then conceives an elaborate plan to cover up the murder. In the swirl of events that follow, Storm finds that his greatest danger comes, not from the police, but from his well-meaning friends.

Continue reading “Ashes to Ashes (1919) by Isabel Ostrander”

Sudden Fear (1948) by Edna Sherry

Edna Sherry Sudden Fear Cover 01

9 Stars

So you’re planning a murder? For love, hate, revenge, or money. Let’s go.

It’s an old story. Playwright Myra Hudson has money, fame, intelligence—everything except youth and beauty. Everything except love. But that’s no problem if you’re willing to pay.

Her strange romance with Lester Blaine begins when she fires him from her play for being too handsome. Despite her cynicism, Myra falls deeply in love for the first time, blinded by her new husband’s beauty. If Lester doesn’t feel the same way about her, at least he plays his role to perfection. Myra seems to have found her happy ending at last, until an intriguing young woman enters their lives.

Continue reading “Sudden Fear (1948) by Edna Sherry”