Saturday, December 23, 2017

57. An Air that Kills by Margaret Millar

Dark Carnival, to which I get to be in proximity during the holiday season, is under threat of closing down, though thankfully still remains open as of this writing. They have books by several hard-to-find authors that I hadn't purchased for several reasons.  I think that I can no longer afford that luxury and accordingly picked up a two-book volume of Margaret Millar's.  It's really not in a format that I like and the layout and typography is frankly quite bad.  I feel terrible saying that, because I really appreciate Stark House and the quality of the others they get out, but they really need to hire somebody to do their design.  This book was hard to read at first because of the typography.

Fortunately, we're dealing with Margaret Millar here, where "hard to read" is about as far away as you can get.  I really can't get into a deep review here, because the pleasure is in the reading and anything I share with you in this meagre "review" will only weaken that pleasure when you finally make the right choice and dedicate your life to finding all of her books and reading them.  I will say that my primary enjoyment of Millar is her depiction of the characters and their myriad flaws.  She is as unsparing and exposing as Highsmith, yet somehow always maintains a slight tinge of empathy.  People are weak and confused and damaging yet you always get a little hint of why with Millar.  What this book in particular reminded me of, though, is that Millar is also a master crafter of the mystery form.  I can say no more than that.

This story takes place in Toronto and cottage country in Ontario in the 50s.  A successful and disconnected husband is leaving his wife and children for a fishing weekend with his buddies in their lake cottage.  He never gets there.  Why not and did his stopping over and having a drink with the wife of one of the buddies mean something more than just a missed connection?  The plot thickens, friendships and social mores of uptight 50s Toronto are tested.  Great stuff.

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