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Through a Glass, Darkly: Dr Basil Willing Investigates (Arcturus Crime Classics) (Crime Classics 3) Paperback – 15 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Arcturus Publishing Ltd (15 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848588984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848588981
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

'McCloy has always resembled the best writers of the Sayers-Blake-Allingham school' New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Born in New York City, Helen McCloy was educated in Brooklyn, at the Quaker Friends' school, and later studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1927-1932 she worked for Hearst's Universal News Service after which she freelanced as an art critic and contributor to various publications, including the London Morning Post. Shortly after her return to the US she published her first novel, Dance of Death, in 1933, featuring her popular series detective-psychologist Basil Willing. The novel Through a Glass Darkly, a puzzle in the supernatural tradition of John Dickson Carr, is the eighth in the Basil Willing series and is generally acknowledged to be her masterpiece. In 1946 McCloy married fellow author Davis Dresser, famed for his Mike Shayne novels. Together they founded Halliday & McCloy literary agency as well as the Torquil Publishing Company. The couple had one daughter, Chloe, and their marriage ended in 1961. In 1950 Helen McCloy became the first woman president of the Mystery Writers of America and in 1953 she was awarded an Edgar by the same organisation for her criticism. In 1987, critic and mystery writer H. R. F. Keating included her Basil Willing title Mr Splitfoot in a list of the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Margaret M. Mcdermott on 27 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Helen McCloy must surely be one of the best practitioner of the psychological suspense drama. Her books often have a theme of disturbed/morbid psychology which she knows a great deal about. Her characters are drawn from the upper strata of American society. She is very knowledgeable about the arts. This might all sound a bit heavy going but her style is effortless and you are drawn in and drawn along at once. This is one of her very best and features the psychiatrist Basil Willing. I am delighted that Arcturus are reprinting, would love to re-read them all. Highly recomended
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By Jim Noy on 31 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback
In a world before employment tribunals, Faustina Crayle is fired from her teaching job for no specific reason and being a woman in the 1940s has no choice but to accept it. Then an educated white man with no legal or professional jurisdiction begins looking into it and everyone is only too happy to divulge her shocking open secret that is irritatingly only nebulously implied for the redundant first third of this very short book.

Thankfully Dr Basil Willing – a character I’ve now spent two books with, and whose lone defining characteristic seems to be the absence of defining characteristics – is motivated by Science to look beyond the obvious and monologue about psychology in the obstinately pompous voice that all McCloy’s characters have. An impossible situation and a kind-of-impossible murder are no match for his apparent brilliance, but an overburdening of convenience doesn’t hurt and the contortions of the plot required for the solution manage to undermine the vague sense of unease that permeates some very purple prose and a frank neglect of common sense.

Nevertheless, I kind of like what Helen McCloy has achieved here. Some aspects of the solution are beautifully subtle (though some are just a bit too ridiculous for words) and the situation itself is at least slightly novel in the company she’s keeping. There’s also a lovely moment where she seems to inspire her own far superior Mr. Splitfoot about 15 years later, and the underlying note of the final page is notable for being uncommon in this genre. It’s also a very quick read, though I’d like to think she’s written other better books. My advice would be to read Splitfoot first and then try this with lowered expectations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
McCloy gives us another satisfying puzzler 22 Mar. 2005
By Ron - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. Basil Willing tackles the case of a doppleganger involved in murder, and meets his future wife in the bargain.

From the Dell paperback edition: "Strange, evil happenings and an aura of impending doom weigh heavily on a beautiful girl who is the unfortunate victim of a terror-filled existence. The bizarre events are seemingly supernatural to all persons but Dr. Basil Willing. He follows a murderer's trail through the worlds of spirit and legend and back into this world to solve the case of the only woman who could never have an alibi."

I am a sucker for mapbacks, but usually the map is no help in solving the puzzle. But the scene of the crime on the back of the mapback edition of this book actually does have a clue if you look at it right. Recommended if you like Golden Age mysteries.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A major, overlooked writer's mystery masterpiece. 2 Jun. 2013
By Enrique F. Bird - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Helen McCloy is one of the major writers of the classical, Golden Age type mystery from the United States. She is also one of the most overlooked and underestimated. Her debut novel, "Dance of Death", introduced Dr. Basil Willing, a major detective fiction sleuth who suffers the same recognition problem as his creator. It is also, in my opinion, one of the great debut mysteries.
"Through a Glass, Darkly" is probably McCloy's masterpiece, and one of the greatest classical detective stories ever written. It has an impossible "situation" (to distinguish it from what it later becomes, an impossible crime): a teacher in a girls' school is asked to leave but not told why. We soon learn both why and that this is not the first time such a thing happened: she seems to be able to be in 2 places at the same time. From this follows an impeccably told tale with plenty of suspense and mild horror, which culminates in a remarkable job of reasoning, observation, and sleuthing by Dr. Willing, which somehow manages to explain satisfactorily all that has gone on before. Not to be missed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Creepy, suspenseful novel 6 Mar. 2015
By Lemon Sky - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is widely considered to be Helen McCloy's masterpiece, and it is my personal favorite of her books. This is a creepy, dark, and very sad tale that is quite different from the standard Golden Age mystery. There is a strange, unsettling atmosphere in the book, which makes you want to look over your shoulder.

Gisela, who is the girlfriend of McCloy's detective, Dr Basil Willing, is a new teacher at Brereton, an exclusive girls' school. Another new teacher is Faustina Crayle, a rather strange, unworldly and socially awkward young woman. Much to the surprise of both young women, Faustina is fired without explanation by Mrs Lightfoot, the headmistress of the school. Despite Faustina's pleas, Mrs Lightfoot refuses to state why the young teacher has been fired. All she will say is, "I am not ordinarily a ruthless person but when I am faced with the possibility of your ruining Brereton, I can be completely ruthless." Mrs Lightfoot claims it is the atmosphere that Faustina creates. She also refuses to give Faustina reference. Faustina is given very little time to prepare for her departure. In tears, she confides in Gisela.

Though Gisela finds Faustina to be rather odd, she also feels sorry for her. Gisela writes to Dr Willing: "There is something sinister about the whole affair and, to tell you the shameless truth, I’m beginning to be a little bit frightened myself....I can’t go down the upper hall after ten, when the blue night-lamp is the only light, without looking back over my shoulder and expecting to see....I don’t quite know what, but something distinctly peculiar and unpleasant."

Needless to say, Dr Willing gets involved and quickly discovers that this is not the first time Faustina has been dismissed from a teaching job due to the "atmosphere" that she creates. I won't say more because that would spoil the fun. Personally, I think the summary from the publisher gives too much away. This is an excellent mystery and one that should be better known - just like its author. It's a shame that more people have not heard of Helen McCloy.

Very recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Thoroughly satisfying 14 Nov. 2014
By Khirul - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A surprisingly satisfying mystery, with convincing detection, woven into interesting speculation about such things as the meaning of death, the existence of the soul, and the possibility of out-of-body experiences.
Slow 22 Mar. 2015
By Emmett Hoops - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was a little disappointed in this book. Compared to others in the Arcturus Crime Classics series, the writing in this one just seems not to have aged as well as it could have. There are some feeble attempts at romance, some feeble attempts at creepy supernatural events, but as a whole, this book is just too light for my taste.
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