Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 March 02 • Wednesday

The first line is, "Years later, she would dream of Alpenstadt, and wake, oppressed by fear", which reminded me of the opening of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Both books are extremely well written and offer a subversive updating of a fairytale: Cinderella, more or less.

Lucille Fletcher is best known for Sorry, Wrong Number, which was a Suspense radio play before it became a movie with Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.

(Suspense had brilliant theme music by Bernard Herrmann, who also scored some of the early episodes. He and Fletcher were married until Herrmann left Fletcher for her cousin.)

Fletcher's also wrote "The Hitchhiker", a radio play that found a new audience as an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Like the publishers of …And Presumed Dead, I will remain more or less silent about the plot of this extraordinary novel. It was very suspenseful, I think I can say, though it would have been more so if the first line didn't reveal that the heroine is destined to survive her ordeal.

But it was excellent and I plan to seek out more of Fletcher's books. She's one of those writers who send me running to the dictionary every few pages (which I enjoy). I didn't know what caparisoned, wattles, espaliered, majolica or rachitic meant, for instance. I still don't. I looked them up but I don't remember their definitions.