Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.



by Vera Caspary

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5582542,975 (3.95)2 / 96
In the doorway of an elegant New York apartment, blood seeps over silk negligee, over polished wood floors and plush carpet: a beautiful young woman lies dead, her face disfigured by a single gun shot. But who was Laura? What power did she hold over the very different men in her life? How does her portrait bewitch even Mark McPherson, the hard-bitten detective assigned to find her murderer? One stormy night, Mark's investigation takes an unexpected turn...… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

» See also 96 mentions

English (24)  Spanish (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
A murder told from the viewpoints of the four main characters.

A woman is shot in the face when she answers the front door. She is identified as Laura, the woman who rents the apartment. The damage to her face is so extensive that some of the people have doubts.

Waldo Lydecker, a snide, self-centered gossip columnist claims to be a close friend of Laura, and also to have strong feelings for her.

Shelby Carpenter, a smooth, southern gentleman, who is engaged to Laura. They were to married the day after the day she was murdered.

Mark McPherson, the detective assigned to the case, finds he is fascinated by Laura to the point that he is possibly falling for her. A distraction he doesn’t need to succumb to.

Lydecker and Carpenter each make good suspects. For McPherson either one would do, but he is a man for truth and not publicity. He takes his time and learns more about Laura than he expected. Each suspect has secrets regarding their friendship with Laura.

Obsession, guile, subterfuge, suspicion and sarcasm run throughout the book. Sifting through layers, the relationships separate to disclose the murderer.

A classic read, that was also a hit movie. Between the two, the book was better for mood and tension. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Dec 21, 2023 |
First appearing in Collier's Magazine in 1942, this fantastic mystery/romance novel by Vera Caspary is sometimes overshadowed by the magnificent film it spawned, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. Director Otto Preminger's masterpiece is one of the finest mysteries in the history of motion pictures. But that does not detract from how wonderful the story is in novel form. Quite simply, this is one of the finest and most unusual mystery novels ever written. Caspary used an unique narrative structure to create an atmospheric and involving mystery which has stood the test of time.

The story revolves around Detective Mark McPherson's investigation into the murder of Laura Hunt. McPherson has somewhat of a celebrity status within the department due to some front page cases with which he has been involved. But he is unprepared for the high society circles Laura moved in, and Caspary allows the reader to see through the detective's eyes the affectations of the rich. It is a world where people begin their insults with endearing terms like darling, then proceed to use words the roughest seaman wouldn't use to tear you apart.

Laura's benefactor and sometimes companion, Waldo Lydecker, is the poster boy for such behavior. He uses his well known newspaper column to destroy all of Laura's would-be suitors. Only the man she was set to marry, Shelby Carpenter, was able to withstand the glare of Lydecker's poison-pen scrutiny. But on the weekend before she was to be married, a knock on the door late at night, followed by a shotgun blast, cuts her life short.

Waldo Lydecker begins the narration, then McPherson picks up where he left off. It is during McPherson's narration we get to see events as they really are, bringing about for the reader an understanding of the detective's thought process and actions so twisted out of context by Lydecker. Caspery's descriptions of the encounters between Lydecker and McPherson are splendid. You can almost feel the breeze in the popular open-air restaurant where they dine and hear the young woman going from table to table singing, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Caspary also allows the reader to feel McPherson's frustration with the pretty-boy, Shelby Carpenter. Above all this, however, Caspary paints a picture of Laura that allows us to understand how McPherson has fallen in love with a dead girl, because we have also.

Laura could not have been more different than these people, her inner beauty inspiring loyalty in her working-class maid, Bessie. McPherson soon begins to wonder how a smart girl like Laura managed to surround herself with such morally empty people, their arrogance and gutter ethics only surpassed by their lack of character. But Caspery is smart enough to let us see into a woman's heart as well, and make us understand.

On a rainy night in Laura's swanky 5th Avenue walk-up apartment, while McPherson sits underneath her painting looking through her diary, searching for a clue to her murder, Caspary suddenly turns an already great mystery-romance novel into a classic. We simply can't put it down at this point. It is a fantastic read and stands with a handful of others in the genre as one of the best ever written. It is timeless, as fresh today as it was in 1943. This is one book in the mystery genre you don't want to miss. ( )
  Matt_Ransom | Oct 6, 2023 |
2.5 stars
Mark mcpherson, from the "detective bureau," first comes to question Waldo lydecker, a fat creep who is in love with Laura and who writes a column in a local newspaper, to see what he knows about Laura's "murder." I caught the author in a blooper. Lydecker says he's known Laura since 1934, but later he has a memory of having dinner with her in 1933. I can't stand this character. He has a "Filipino houseboi." What a jerk!
After McPherson leaves, Lydecker reflects on his observations about him. Moreover, he reveals to us that he knows what he is:
"...his remarking upon my preference for men who are less than 100% exposed his own sensitivity. Reared in a world that honors only 100%, he has learned in maturity what I knew as a miserable, obese adolescent, that the lame, the halt, and the blind have more malice in their souls, therefore more acumen. Cherishing secret hurt, they probe for pains and weaknesses of others. And probing is the secret of finding.
"for an hour after he had gone, I sat upon the sofa, listless, toying with my envy. That hour exhausted me. I turned for Solace to Laura's epitaph. Rhythms failed, words eluded me. Mark had observed that I wrote smoothly but said nothing. I have sometimes suspected this flaw in my talent, but have never faced myself with the admission of failure. Upon that Sunday noon I saw myself as a fat, fussy, and useless male of middle age and doubtful charm. By all that is logical I should have despised mark mcpherson. I could not. For all of his rough edges, he was the man I should have been, the hero of the story."

When Laura comes back from the dead, McPherson is with her in her apartment and Shelby Carpenter comes rushing in and performs a scene that fools nobody, pretending that he didn't know she was still alive.
"the bell rang again. When I opened the door, Shelby pushed past.
'Where is she?' He shouted.
'Oh, you know, then?'
I heard the back door open, and I knew that he had met Bessie on the stairs.
'God damn women,' I said.
Then Laura came out of the kitchen. I saw at once that Bessie wasn't the woman who deserved my curses. The lovers' meeting was too perfect. They embraced, kissed, and clung. An actor after a dozen rehearsals would have groped for his handkerchief in the same dazed way. An actor would have held her at arm's length, staring at her with that choir boy look on his face. There was something pre-arranged about the whole scene. His tenderness and her joy.
I turned my back. Laura's voice was melted syrup. 'Happy, darling?'
he answered in a whisper.
My pipe had gone out. If I turned and got a match from the table, they would think I was watching. I bit on the cold stem. The whispering and muttering went on. I watched the minute hand creep around the dial of my watch. [This next part had me perplexed.] I thought of his sweetheart's house. It had been four above 10:00 and by midnight it was below zero. I had waited in the snow and thought about the gangster lying warm in the arms of his fat slut. I turned and saw Shelby's hand feeling, touching, moving, moving along the tan material of Laura's dress.
'How infinitely touching! What inexpressible tenderness! Juliet risen from the grave! Welcome, romeo!'
It was, of course, waldo. He had not only recovered his strength, but his bounce."

Here's a really ugly part where Laura is talking to McPherson about how she liked to do "menial" work, which Shelby disapproved of her doing:
"...He always said that I shouldn't do menial work, I could afford to hire service; he could never know the fulfillment of working with your hands in your own house. My people were plain folk; the women went West with their men and none of them found gold. But Shelby came from 'gentle' people; they had slaves to comb their hair and put on their shoes. A gentleman cannot see a lady work like a nigger; a gentleman opens the door and pulls out a lady's chair and brings a whore into her bedroom. I saw then, working on my knees, the pattern our marriage would have taken, shoddy and deceitful, taut emotion woven with slack threads of pretense."

I wasn't very impressed with this book; I don't know why they say it was Caspary's best book. I haven't seen the movie, But it was so cheesy, and to be honest, I saw from early on that lydecker had probably murdered Laura, at least he meant to. When McPherson was examining his Cane, and Lydecker snatched it back, McPherson had noted that it was heavy. As soon as he said that, I knew that it was some kind of gun.
( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Snappy with good one-liners. Enjoyed the multiple narrators and didn't really see Laura as the femme fatale she's said to be. She seemed more the modern working woman who wasn't afraid to use her brain and just happened to be beautiful. Will watch the 1944 movie adaptation asap. ( )
  Chris.Wolak | Oct 13, 2022 |
I remembered the movie from too many years ago to count, with the beautiful Gene Tierney as Laura. As I read, I began to remember the plot, which was a bit of a spoiler for me, but it was a fun read nonetheless. If you do not know the story, it is a terrific piece of noir with a detective that really works!

Now I have the music running through my mind:

Laura is the face in the misty light,
Footsteps that you hear down the hall.
The laugh that floats on a summer night,
That you can never quite recall.
And you see Laura on the train that is passing through.
Those eyes, how familiar they seem.
She gave your very first kiss to you,
That was Laura, but she's only a dream

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
First words
The city that Sunday morning was quiet.
Sitting at my desk, pen in hand, I treasured the sense that among those millions, only I, Waldo Lydecker, was up and doing.
There are a lot of people who haven't got the brains for their college educations." The comment, while uttered honestly, was tinged faintly with the verdigris of envy. "The trouble is that they've been brought up with ideas of class and education so they can't relax and work in common jobs. There are plenty of fellows in these fancy offices who'd be a lot happier working in filling stations.
... the magnificence of my skeleton is hidden by the weight of my flesh.
Come, now, what of the girlfriend?" I pleaded.
He answered dryly: "I've had plenty in my life. I'm no angel."
"Ever loved one?"
"A doll in Washington Heights got a fox fur out of me. And I'm a Scotsman, Mr. Lydecker. So make what you want of it."
"In detective stories, there are two kinds, the hardboiled ones who are always drunk and talk out of the corners of their mouths and do it all by instinct; and the cold, dry, scientific kind who split hairs under a microscope."
"Which do you prefer?"
"Neither," she said. "I don't like people who make their livings out of spying and poking into people's lives. Detectives aren't heroes to me, they're detestable."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

In the doorway of an elegant New York apartment, blood seeps over silk negligee, over polished wood floors and plush carpet: a beautiful young woman lies dead, her face disfigured by a single gun shot. But who was Laura? What power did she hold over the very different men in her life? How does her portrait bewitch even Mark McPherson, the hard-bitten detective assigned to find her murderer? One stormy night, Mark's investigation takes an unexpected turn...

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.95)
2 7
3 23
3.5 9
4 52
4.5 9
5 31

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 204,620,012 books! | Top bar: Always visible