|a serious jacket design|
for a serious crime novel
Between 1958 and 1966 nothing appeared besides the novel Before I Die (1963) and a story collection, The Singing Diamonds (1965).
Then in 1967 The Further Side of Fear appeared and between that year and 1980 Helen McCloy published ten crime novels.
Why that long, relatively unproductive gap after The Slayer and the Slain? Perhaps Helen McCloy felt she achieved her masterpiece with Slayer.
The Slayer and the Slain deals with a lot of thematic preoccupations in McCloy's work (it's really a summation of them), but it's a challenging book to talk about without giving away too much of the plot.
Unacceptably, the ending of Slayer is given away on the Helen McCloy entry on the Gadetection wiki. This entry appears to have been substantially edited down from the entry on www.kirjasto.sci.fi, which gives away the entire plot of the book without even a spoiler warning--really inexcusable.
So be careful about looking for internet discussions of this book. A more responsible review is found on the blog.femmenoir.org (an interesting blog), although even this review, I feel, gives away more of the plot than is ideal for virgin readers.
|Victor Gollancz used this|
"best butter" blurb for years on
McCloy dust wrappers
At least this is what people tell him must have happened after he is discovered lying on the ground, unconscious.
Recovered from his accident, Vaughan resolves to retire from teaching (though still a young man) and return to his home town of Clearwater, Virginia, to live a pastoral life raising horses and perhaps even to rekindle his romance with Celia Arabin, daughter of Eugene Arabin, local old money bigwig.
But things don't go at all like Vaughan planned. Strange events begin occurring in Clearwater....
Although a violent death does not take place until about 60% of the way through the book, throughout the entire novel the reader is held in the sinister grip of the narrative.
Someone coming to the book today, fifty-six years after it was published, may anticipate some of the developments, but even after McCloy herself makes a major revelation a good way before the end of the novel, interest only increases. This is the definition of "psychological suspense."
A book that must be read to the very last page....
*(the review at femmenoir, by the way, gives his surname as Deane; was it changed in the English edition I read, possible due to the resemblance to the name Carolus Deene, Leo Bruce's English detective?).