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Before the Fact by Martin Edwards

Before the Fact (1932)

by Martin Edwards (Author)

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26816101,308 (3.71)45
Swept away by an admirer's charm, Lina McLaidlaw finds herself settled in a life she could never have imagined. Her husband Johnnie is feckless and irresponsible, and even though she accepts he's a murderer, Johnnie still adores her - doesn't he?
Title:Before the Fact
Authors:Martin Edwards (Author)
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Work Information

Before the Fact by Francis Iles (1932)


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English (15)  Dutch (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I read this because it is the novel that the Hitchcock film Suspicion is based on. In my thoughts on that film, I said that the ending felt false, and someone put me onto this.
This may be rather spoiler ridden.
From the first there is an air of menace over the book. We see it from Lina's perspective, as we review her marriage to Johnnie, who we believe to be a murderer from the first.
Lina is unmarried at the books' beginning. She is supposed to be the intelligent sister, and suffers somewhat in the rather stifling local social scene. Into this comes Johnnie Asgarth, a ne'er do well with local family connections. He latches on to Lina and plays the inexperienced woman to perfection. She falls for him and will brook no opposition in marrying him. It turns out that he has, as suspected, no money, but that doesn't stop him blowing a loan on the honeymoon and a house too large for them.
Johnnie is presented as charming and a product of the upper middle class in the early part of the 20th century, he expects the best in life but doe not expect to have to do any work to get it. He's also, probably, a compulsive gambler. He lies and steals to fulfill his habit.
While presented as intelligent, Lina is rather naive and sheltered, her upbringing having done her no favours in this regard. The relationship is presented from Lina's perspective. She seems to crave any sign of affection and appreciation, seeming to lack in self confidence. Johnnie may be charming, but is manipulative, and the relationship might be characterised as abusive. Lina at one stage makes a break, and there is a potential to turn things around, only she returns to Johnnie and so returns to the same situation. She has a couple of occasions when she could be an agent of her own fate, but rejects the opportunity each time.
You could view her as being simply foolish, but I think the abusive relationship has to be taken into account. She is so conditioned to her state that she is unable to take action to change her fate. I think this is darker than the film, there is no hiding from the denouement. ( )
1 vote Helenliz | Sep 3, 2023 |
Lina is in her late twenties and known as the smart sister while her younger sister, Joyce, is the pretty one. Lina is smart enough to know her looks aren't getting her anywhere but she isn't a genius, just a young woman from a very wealthy family who desperately wants to have a husband who loves her. Johnnie is introduced to Lina just when she'd about given up hope, and he's perfect: remarkably handsome, charming, fun and very interested in Lina. He sweeps her off her feet and they are quickly married, with Lina wondering how she could be so lucky. But as charming as he is, Lina finds that year after year, Johnnie's breezy charm comes from the fact that nothing matters to him and he's capable of smiling through anything.
Published in 1932, this book was the inspiration for Hitchcock's movie Suspicion. It's often surprisingly modern, with it's characterization of a sociopath. It's also frustrating, as Lina goes from an intelligent woman to a simpering fool who loves Johnnie a ridiculous amount. Iles is a good storyteller though, so I kept reading and hoping that Lina would figure out what to do about her terrible husband. ( )
  mstrust | Feb 14, 2020 |
By the end you're rooting for the antagonist and you just want to smack some sense into Lina who - like the trio of sufferers in Paula Hawkins' 'The Girl on the Train' - is so spineless and blindly obsessed with her abuser that it's painful to witness her downward spiral. ( )
  knp4597 | Mar 19, 2018 |
"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."


Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox) must have been a complete misogynist to have created such a hopeless, useless, idiotic female character as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth. I purely hated this book. I bought it & read it because I actually loved Trial and Error, written by this author as Anthony Berkeley.

I'm donating it to Goodwill in hopes that it may find a reader who can stand it better than I can. ( )
  booksandscones | Sep 29, 2016 |
It took me a while to get through it. It isn't my cup of tea, but I had to finish it. Short reads got me through.

Francis Illes style is of the psychological thriller rather than the outright who-done-it. There are no police, no outright victim, but there is crime. Tension is the primary mood in this story of two co-dependent people.

Lina is in love with Johnnie. Even though she has been told by those who know that Johnnie is bad news, she marries him. After a few years she realizes how bad an apple he is. He has caused the death of her father, stolen from friends, embezzled from an employer, forged Lina's signature to pay betting debts, cheats on her and she realizes that he is planning to kill her. All this in the name of money, using his boyish charm and charisma and the ability to talk his way out of things.

I give this 5 stars as the writing is top knotch and the author takes you through various moods. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Jun 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iles, Francisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ahmavaara, EeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dexter, ColinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edwards, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Some women give birth to murderers, some go to bed with them, and some marry them.
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Swept away by an admirer's charm, Lina McLaidlaw finds herself settled in a life she could never have imagined. Her husband Johnnie is feckless and irresponsible, and even though she accepts he's a murderer, Johnnie still adores her - doesn't he?

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