This re-issue of Vera Caspary's classic 1943 novel is most welcome. A novel of mystery, suspense and brilliant character development surrounding the murder of Laura Hunt in New York, shot at point-blank range in the face. A successful career woman of great beauty, intelligence and wit, she has many suitors and high-society friends, many shallow and arrogant. Laura is complex and subtle and news of her death shocking. The narrative centres around Waldo Lydecker, a snobbery art historian and poisonous newspaper columnist, her fiance Shelby Carpenter a playboy and epitomy of sophistry and her rich aunt, Mrs Treadwell. Laura inspires loyalty in her entourage including her maid Bessie.
Clearly Laura is someone special and fascinating and it is easy to see how she has become so loved. Even hardened detective Mack McPherson who is sent to investigate the murder is immediately smitten by Laura's portrait that hangs on the wall and his background leaves him unprepared for the society he has to deal with. He becomes infatuated by Laura, reading her journals and fantasising to the point where he believes he is in love with the dead woman. The story is written in enthralling prose with different narrators. The mystery unfolds in dramatic fashion keeping the suspense and momentum right to the melodramatic end. This is a marvellous tale of mystery, murder, self-searching literature wonderfully written by Vera Caspary and turned into a movie masterpiece by Otto Peminger in 1944.