Genre: Mystery and thrillers
Dr. Paul Prye’s wedding was dramatically interrupted when Jane Stevens, a bridesmaid, became ill in the church vestibule. Some thought it was a convulsion. Prye knew it was poison. Jane’s brother Duncan, a smooth bully, didn’t care what it was. Duncan fancied himself as a great gentleman and a superior wit. Hence, it satisfied many people when he was found under most humiliating circumstances.
With one poisoning, one bashed several hysterical women, and a most amusing inebriated divorcée, THE DEVIL LOVES ME is completely suave and subtle. The appeal of Margaret Millar’s books is compounded of plot, humor, and characterization. This particular one is tops.
Genre: Mystery and thrillers
In this book Margaret Millar returns to the wry mixture of imaginative farce and queasy horror which first won the hearts of mystery fans. It has a firm, fast plot and a rich variety of characters that are as real as they are amusing.
They are presented first through the eyes of Isobel Seton, a candid and witty New Yorker who has bought skis and is riding on Sno-bus to a Sno-lodge in the wilds of Quebec in the middle of a snowstorm. Other passengers include a burlesque artist, a refugee English poet whose genius is to madness near allied, an aging divorcee who acts as his patroness, a handsome young couple who are reveling masochistically in a frustrated honeymoon, a married pair who wish somebody had frustrated their honeymoon, a precocious sophomore who is making an avocation of protecting her mild and mannerly father against the perils of sex, and a handsome young-old man who says he’s so wicked that nobody believes him until he proves it.
There’s a bus-driver, too, who stops the car in the middle of nowhere, walks away into the blizzard and doesn’t come back. The account of what happens to the stranded ski-party in that decayed wilderness chateau during the mad night that follows will provide mystery fans with the kind of evening that they are fanatical about. There is Miss Rudd, the elderly owner of the place, playfully free with the shears, the bus-driver’s coat discovered under the coal, the grizzly discovery in the snowbound front yard along toward morning, and other more hair-raising adventures as the tempo rises. This is the swiftest and most entertaining of Mrs. Millar’s contributions to hairbreadth-escape literature.
At a crisis in his second marriage, Ron Galloway dropped out of sight. Having said good-bye to his wife and his sons in Toronto, he started out for his hunting lodge, where he had invited some friends to spend the weekend with him. When Ron failed to appear, two of his friends, Ralph Turee and Harry Bream, took it upon themselves to investigate his disappearance. Even before his body was found, they discovered that Ron had been leading a double life.
The doubleness of Ron’s life was more than matched by the doubleness of his death, and the events that followed his death. Because a beautifully controlled irony is its keynote, any further summary of the story would reveal too much, and too little. When revelation does come, to Ralph Turee and the reader, it comes with the shock and illuminative flash of a carefully laid explosion.
Gordon Foster’s activities took a sudden bounce off the track of his daily pattern of staid middle-class living when a girl asked him for a match in the lobby of a San Francisco hotel.
In a matter of weeks the girl Ruby followed Gordon home to Channel City and injected a somewhat discordant note into his otherwise peaceful marriage. Gordon’s wife, a fiercely virtuous woman, fought all through the hot summer to hold her husband, while most of the rest of Channel City lay prostrate under the burning coastal sun.
Yet Ruby’s all but hopeless love for Gordon is paralleled by other loves, equally poignant, equally real. Mrs. Millar’s novel shows, sometimes with biting humor, sometimes with warm compassion, how extraordinary the lives and loves of those around us can be.
Since her writing debut fourteen years ago, Margaret Millar has had a brilliant and variegated career as a mystery writer, as a humorist and as a serious novelist. For nearly half of those fourteen years she has been working on It is her first major attempt to deal with the lives and loves of “ordinary” middle-class people in contemporary society.