Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong

After Sarah Weinman came to the 2016 Virginia Festival of the Book, I picked up her Women Crime Writers anthology to read some of the short novels included from the 1940s and 1950s. Then I put it down. I picked it up again later, only to put it down again. Finally, I read Mischief, the first novela in the second book of the set. It was a random choice. It was an interesting choice.

I went into it thinking that it was going to be a mystery, rather than a story of suspense. It’s not a mystery. It is, however, very suspenseful, and I kept returning to it in small chunks… a couple pages here, a couple pages there. It was dark in a creeping sort of way, and it built up to a frantic, clawing violence. Armstrong’s descriptions and the 1950s norms of the story are quite unlike most of what I read these days and it felt like an escape into a black and white noir film. I know that’s cliche, but it was very difficult not to imagine the story unfolding with your standard issue 1950s noir actors on the lush hotel set.

This post is part of #MySummerOfMysteries, a project to immerse myself in mysteries, thrillers, crime writing, and whodunits. For each book I finish, I’m posting brief thoughts and reflections here. Please note that these are not intended as full reviews. To view my reading progress throughout the summer, click here.