Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Darkened Mirror

By Helen McCloy.
Random House.
1950. $2.50
McCloy came late and stayed later in the Golden Age of Detection; her series sleuth was Dr. Basil Willing.

Excerpt from B. V. Lawson's IN REFERENCE TO MURDER (September 24, 2010):
Willing's actual literary debut was in the short story 'Through a Glass Darkly,' published in 'Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine' in September 1948 and later expanded into the 1950 novel by the same title.
It's a quasi-locked-room a la John Dickson Carr, with a seemingly supernatural twist involving a Doppelganger in which art teacher Faustina Crayle is fired from Brereton School for Girls mid-term but not given a reason why.
Faustina's friend and fellow teacher, Gisela von Weber, also happens to be the fiancee of Basil Willing, who draws him into the case, fearing an injustice has been done.
From THE SATURDAY REVIEW (May 20, 1950):
Strange dismissal of girls'-school teacher leads colleague to call in psychiatrist-sleuth Basil Willing, who makes startling discoveries. - For chills, thrill, suspense, adroit detecting, and general eye-popping excitement this is way out in front! - Verdict: Terrific.
Excerpt from Mike Grost's A GUIDE TO CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTION ("Through a Glass, Darkly"):
This tale exists in two versions: a short story "Through a Glass, Darkly" (1948), and a novel with the same name 'Through a Glass, Darkly' (1949 - 1950). Both versions are very close in terms of plot and character.
According to Helen McCloy's autobiographical comments in the introduction to the short version, "Glass" started out as a long work; McCloy then condensed it down to a short version, for publication in 'Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine'.
The short version shows artistic economy: it is very rich in plot and imagination for its length. The novel includes Basil Willing's romance with Austrian refugee Gisela von Hohenems, a pleasing addition. Gisela had been introduced previously in 'The Man in the Moonlight'. It also includes an extra murder mystery centered around the school.

Category: Detective fiction

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