Reviews - What do customers think about An Air That Kills / Do Evil in Return (Stark House Mystery Classics)?
Completely surprised; absolutely delighted Feb 17, 2008
I wish there were a 6 stars option in this rating system. If so, Millar's two novels would get 6 from me.
I've been a big Ross MacDonald fan for a few decades. The Dalton Case, Black Money, The Underground Man, and his many other Lew Archer books are finely wrought evocations of the evils that men do staying persistent through many generations.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that Kenneth (MacDonald's) real name) Millar's wife was the better writer of the two. It's no accident she won and Edgar in the mid 1950's and was voted a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in the 1980's.
I like three things about these two books quite a bit. First of all, her plot resolutions sneak up on you. In both An Air That Kills and Do Evil in Return, there is a keen distinction between what you think is going on and what is actually happening. Even forewarned that this is the case, you're surprised at the end.
Secondly, Millar can stitch up the essence of a character better and more quickly than almost anyone. I won't spoil her best lines for you by quoting them here, but suffice to say that a creative writing professor could not get through these books without highlighting dozens of passages.
Finally, I like the strong sense of place one gets. Her descriptions of the Canadian north woods or 1950's Santa Barbara are very evocative.
Stark House is to be commended highly for bringing these two fine works out in one volume. For anyone who enjoys mysteries, I urge you to go buy this book and pass the word on. Finding Millar is a rare treat. I'm now going to read a handful more of her works to see if she is consistently this good. I certainly hope so.
1950s Noir by Leading Lady Mystery Writer Ages Well Aug 12, 2007
Props to Stark House to reprint two of Margaret Millar's 1950s noir titles, AN AIR THAT KILLS (1957) and NO EVIL IN RETURN (1950), collected into a single volume. Critic and biographer (including one on Ms. Millar's husband, Ross Macdonald) Tom Nolan also contributes as insightful overview on these two novels, and Ms. Millar's body of work as a mystery writer). AIR concerns a pill salesman named Harry Beam and his wife Thelma who discovers she is pregnant. She names Ron Galloway, a married friend, as the father which causes much consternation in 1950s Toronto society. Before long, Ron is found dead in his convertible, presumably a suicide over his anguish. Thelma emerges as a schemer with big plans in mind for her child. The narrative takes several original twists. Ms. Millar's writing remains first-rate, including her stark metaphors (as nifty and apt as Ross's) and seamless dialogue. Though some of the attitudes come off as quaint and dated by today's standards, the story is a chilly, affecting, and dark noir by a prolific writer at the top of her game. Recommended.