Tuesday, February 25, 2014

4. The Iron Gates by Margaret Millar

[Review written October 7, 2014, but actually read at the date of this post.]

I found this paperback at the Brattle bookstore in Boston.  Unfortunately, I dog-eared the cover accidently.  Still, a nice find.  This is one of Millar's earlier works and you can see in it strongly (perhaps too strongly) her gothic side and her detective side.  It's a convoluted mystery that peels away the layers of a twisted family as well.  Lucille Morrow is the second wife to a successful town doctor who lives at home with his two grown children and his possessive old maid sister.  His first wife died under mysterious circumstances many years before.  The book begins with a series of random incidents that result in Lucille running away and disappearing.  As the family reacts, we learn more about each of them and how messed up each of them is (quite).  In the second half of the book, we delve deep into Lucille's crushed psyche.  This is where Millar really excels.  In this case, though, I found it all a bit too long and convoluted and by the time the truth came out, I was a bit tired of the whole affair.  Also, there is not a pleasant character in the book, except for Inspector Sands of the Toronto police, but he is really just a mechanism to move the plot forward and to let the reader see what is going on.

I am probably being overly critical in this short, late review.  Millar is still really one of the best writers of this kind of criminal insanity.  It's just note one of my favourite of hers.

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