Off On a Tangent

Random musings from Sarah Weinman, editor of Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (Penguin, August 27)

Posts tagged domestic suspense

16 notes


I’ve been talking about this anthology for so long that it’s making me double take, to announce that TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES is well and truly out there for people to buy, read, and discover more work by the included authors. Looking forward to seeing some of you at BookCourt tonight (along with Jami Attenberg, Alafair Burke, Sara J. Henry, and Koethi Zan) and at Community Bookstore on September 12 (in conversation with Hilary Davidson.)

So a few links:

Order at your favorite retailer
Official Facebook fan page (with individual links to reviews and other mentions)
Essay for the National Post (where I contribute the more-or-less monthly “Crimewave” column”) on Margaret Millar, the original Queen of Canadian Crime
Essay for SHOTS on selected the stories for TROUBLED DAUGHTERS
Essay for Crime Time on Miriam Allen deFord and the complicated business involved to include her story “Mortmain” in the anthology
Interview with the Tulsa World's James Watts
Interview with Salon's Laura Miller

And more, but let’s leave it at that for now. Hope you enjoy TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, and three cheers for domestic suspense!

Filed under Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives publication day Margaret Millar Miriam Allen deFord domestic suspense sarah weinman OMG

4 notes

Davis pointed out that mystery readers divide pretty evenly by sex. Women almost universally prefer the polite society murders they find in hard covers in lending libraries: men favor the hard-boiled paperbacks that they find on the newsstands.

“Men,” she said, “seem to find excitement in a sequence of violent action. Whereas women like the read about gentlemen, which they don’t find in paperback fiction and possibly not in real life either.”

Mrs. Davis pointed out that in the paperback field, except for Agatha Christie, men have it all over women. But women hold their own in the hard cover field, in which three of the major editors are also women. “Most literate mysteries,” said Mrs. Davis, “are written by Englishmen or women.

Dorothy Salisbury Davis discoursing on the state of the mystery-reading world in an interview from 1959. Or, she grokked what domestic suspense was better than I could.

Filed under dorothy salisbury davis lit Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives domestic suspense crime fiction

10 notes

Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress. 

Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.

Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress.

Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.

Filed under Naomi Hintze domestic suspense You'll Like My Mother lit crime Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives

0 notes

Domestic Suspense: the Companion Website to TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES

It’s finally here, a little later than expected with a few loose strands: the companion website to my forthcoming anthology TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES. Check out for regular anecdotes, links, images, features, and eventually, longer-form pieces on the fourteen authors in the anthology, as well as their peers and more contemporary practitioners of the genre. Please let me know what you think — and if anyone can track down a good photo of Helen Nielsen, I’d be ever grateful. Apparently, that’s something of a holy grail.

Filed under Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives lit anthology domestic suspense new website

62 notes

The Crime Reading List For Those Who Read and Loved GONE GIRL

So I’m not yet certain if Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL is my favorite crime novel of 2012, but it will almost certainly be up there. And so far I’d say it’s a favorite of a great many people thus far, hitting #2 on the NYT bestseller list its first week out, tons and tons of raves/ongoing reads in my Twitter feed, etc. And Flynn’s book is a sign of what people crave and what they want in crime fiction: books that take risks, present characters whom you identify with (even as you may not necessarily identify with their actions), a plot with a ton of surprises, excellent writing, sharp humor, dark doings, and something “extra.” Frankly, while I’ve become bored with a lot of the standard mystery fare (years of writing columns will do that — again, a good time to repeat that Marilyn Stasio is a force of nature to be admired, she’s been at the NYT thing even longer than the great Anthony Boucher was) I am really jazzed about a growing group of female crime writers who are stretching the genre in wonderful ways, their voices and concerns setting an awfully high bar for debuts to come.

Anyway, you’ve heard of GONE GIRL, read it, loved it, now what? Here are some suggestions, largely women but also some men who fit the bill:

IN A LONELY PLACE, Dorothy B. Hughes (1947) — my all-time favorite crime novel, as close to perfect as these things come. Very different from the (excellent) 1950 film. Do you want to know how to write a narrator who so completely fools himself but the reader knows exactly what is going on? Then read this book. Other great Hughes novels: RIDE THE PINK HORSE, THE EXPENDABLE MAN (soon to be reissued by NYRB Classics!)

BEAST IN VIEW, Margaret Millar (1958) — Currently, foolishly, out of print. A woman gets mysterious phone calls that drive her to the brink. Except there’s a whole lot more going on. She was married to Kenneth Millar (aka Ross Macdonald) and actually published before he did but is rather neglected now. I also have a feeling THE FIEND (1964) would qualify, what with bringing us into the mindset of a child molester (!) with empathy (!!) but I haven’t read that yet. Soon, though. Same with STRANGER IN MY GRAVE (1960).

Basically anything by Patricia Highsmith, but the Ripley novels are too easy so I’ll suggest DEEP WATER or EDITH’S DIARY. And Joan Schenkar’s thorough, almost operatic biography, THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH, published by St. Martin’s a few years ago.

THE SPECIALTY OF THE HOUSE AND OTHER STORIES, Stanley Ellin (1978) — OOP, but probably not for long. The vast majority of Ellin’s short stories collected in one volume. Do you want all manner of moral dilemmas and psychological insights? Ellin was the goddamn man. Also his 1958 novel THE EIGHTH CIRCLE is the best private detective novel I have ever read because it’s about existential dilemmas and moral quandaries — and whether love can, indeed, save people - more than cases.

Two short series of masterpieces published in the 1980s — the Hoke Moseley novels by Charles Willeford (start with MIAMI BLUES, three more follow) and the Factory novels by Derek Raymond (start with HE DIED WITH HIS EYES OPEN, work your way through to the utter gobsmacking visceral horror that is I WAS DORA SUAREZ, and read DEAD MAN UPRIGHT because you have to finish the series.)

MIAMI PURITY, Vicki Hendricks (1995) — basically THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE from a woman’s perspective. And darker. Yes, you heard right. Also CRUEL POETRY.

NICE, by Jen Sacks (1998) — A nice girl has a bit of a problem: she can’t actually break up with anyone, so she kills them. Jen never published another book, though I know she worked on at least one other. It came out in the midst of chick-lit-mania and was a beautiful embrace/subversion of the whole Bridget Jones thing.

the TART NOIR Anthology (2002) — a long, long time ago in Internet years, a handful of female crime writers felt they weren’t getting their due, so they banded together for a website (, which published my first hilarious, ridiculous, probably embarrassing but whatever article on how to be a writer groupie) and then recruited others for this anthology. Lauren Henderson, Stella Duffy, Laura Lippman, Val McDermid, Chris Niles, Karin Slaughter, and pretty much everyone else included are worth tracking down and reading. God it is weird to look back on this with “nostalgia” since Tart Noir was what helped me as an early 20something. Wow, that felt bizarre to write. But it’s true. Could there be a Tart Noir 2.0 some day? And how would it look? Who would it include?

OUT, Natsuo Kirino (2002) — Not enough of Kirino’s work has been translated for me to judge, but this is the standout. A woman kills her husband and three of her co-workers help dismember the body and dump it, and someone else seems to know, but who? So very creepy. So very brilliantly executed. I still remember how horrified I felt as I read it a decade ago.

Speaking of Laura Lippman, her upcoming book AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD (August 14) is really freaking great, about a suburban madam who has to reckon with her past and the careful facade she’s built to raise and protect her son. I will say no more. Until then I would recommend most everything she’s written but in particular I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE (2010) EVERY SECRET THING (2003) and TO THE POWER OF THREE (2005), as it gets into the noirish tendencies and behavior of teenage girls.

Megan Abbott has cornered the “dark desires of teenage girls” territory too with the upcoming DARE ME and THE END OF EVERYTHING, but before then she was doing period noir, of which the best is clearly BURY ME DEEP, though it’s all really good.

I guess I can’t entirely leave out the Scandinavians, so my suggestions would be Karin Alvtegen (GUILT, SHAME, BETRAYAL, MISSING, etc.) and Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels.

Fred Vargas’ Inspector Adamsberg novels, which might look like standard procedurals but are much stranger.

Also be prepared to hear a ton about Attica Locke. I loved her debut BLACK WATER RISING and her next book, THE CUTTING SEASON, is even better. No wonder Dennis Lehane made it his first choice for his Harper imprint. So look for that on September 18, it’s an excellent mystery with great characters, a boatload of history about slavery and murder, and much more.

Somewhat obvious, more recently published choices: All the Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson; all of Tana French’s work (THE LIKENESS remains my favorite) Sophie Hannah’s Zailer/Waterhouse series (though to be fair, I think she could tell the same amount of story and cut at least 1/3 of a book down, but YMMV); all three novels by Emily St. John Mandel; Hilary Davidson’s THE DAMAGE DONE and THE NEXT ONE TO FALL; Erin Kelly’s THE POISON TREE and THE DARK ROSE; Elizabeth Hand’s GENERATION LOSS and AVAILABLE DARK; Christa Faust’s THE MONEY SHOT and CHOKE HOLD; Katie Kitamura’s THE LONGSHOT and GONE TO THE FOREST; Sara Henry’s LEARNING TO SWIM; and onwards.

I have made some tactical omissions and some accidental ones, but this was meant to be a starter list, not necessarily a comprehensive one.

Filed under Gone Girl Gillian Flynn crime fiction lit lists domestic suspense

6 notes

Stuff I’ve Written Or Opined About

I’m technically cutting down on review gigs, but if it’s from my home country, I almost always say yes. To that end I raved about Karen Russell’s novel SWAMPLANDIA! in Maclean’s and had my say on Alan Bradley’s newest Flavia de Luce adventure, A RED HERRING WITHOUT MUSTARD, in The National Post.

BookTV also had me on to talk about Borders’ bankruptcy filing, which was basically me distilling my last post (plus overall Publishers Lunch coverage) into talking points.

And most thrillingly, my essay on crime novels that fall into a category I like to think of as “domestic suspense” will appear in “The Mysterious” issue of Tin House. I got my contributor copies the other day, and will link to the essay or an excerpt when it’s live on the magazine’s website. There are lots of other excellent offerings, like Benjamin Percy’s revealing interview of Peter Straub, Eddie Muller’s exhortation that we should have Noir for a New Century, and an exploration of UFO believers.

In it I discuss the work of unjustly neglected writers like Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Marie Belloc Lowndes and Celia Fremlin and how they mined ordinary anxiety about child-rearing, keeping house and being housewives into terror-filled tales. Holding, in particular, is wonderfully weird, The Blank Wall and The Death Wish in particular. Highsmith clearly (if perhaps unconsciously) took some cues from Holding’s work, published from 1930 through 1955. In hindsight I wished I’d been able to include the work of Margaret Millar, a more recent discovery whose novels are fabulous, and again, deserving of greater respect and reprinting!

Filed under BSP BookTV IfinallyfiguredoutIcantagpostsyay Tin House domestic suspense