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Fright (Hard Case Crime) Mass Market Paperback – 29 Mar 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime (29 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085768325X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857683250
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1.7 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century's finest writer of pure suspense fiction. Author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many turned into classic films) such as "Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," and" I Married a Dead Man," Woolrich began writing in the 1920s with novels that won him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been waiting for this to be reprinted for ages. A few years ago I bought a copy of it in Italian (Woolrich aficionados note, quite a lot of his stuff is available in Italian and Spanish). It took me over a month to read, and my at the end of it not only was my Italian much improved but I knew I'd read a classic. A brilliant study of guilt - perhaps comparable with Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The Italian title is Vortice di Paura (Vortex of Fear), and to my mind that's a much better title. The "hero" starts off as a fairly ordinary sort of guy, but the way he deals with one problem creates another, the way he deals with that creates another, he descends more and more into paranoia and his actions become more and more desperate. You can empathise with him and despise him at the same time - the balance between the two changes as you get further into the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my third Woolrich novel and he's just not doing it for me. I'm a big fan of Jim Thompson, Stark, Spillane and James M. Cain but it just doesn't seem to be happening for me and Cornell.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x947556d8) out of 5 stars 21 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x942b7270) out of 5 stars Almost too suspenseful 4 Sept. 2007
By Craig Clarke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The year is 1915 -- not the most popular year in which to set a crime novel, to be sure -- but the year is really unimportant, except to make the events that occur in Fright even more shocking than they would have been in 1950, when it was first published under the pseudonym George Hopley.

Preston Marshall is a lucky man. He has a job on Wall Street and a lovely fiancee, but a single drunken night leads to an event that, one week later -- the week after the sinking of the Lusitania, in fact, though the two occurrences are not otherwise connected -- begins his downward spiral into a life where every minute is filled with ... wait for it! ... Fright.

Author Cornell Woolrich is probably best known for writing the novella that Alfred Hitchcock turned into his classic film, Rear Window. (His work has been the basis for numerous radio, TV, and film adaptations, one of the most recent being the Angelina Jolie-Antonio Banderas potboiler Original Sin, loosely based on Waltz into Darkness with all the noir trappings intact.)

All these works share some similarities, despite their different approaches, namely protagonists who respond to the events around them far more dramatically than those events really deserve -- at least at first. Marshall's reactions in Fright get him into a deeper quagmire than his original actions ever would have.

Woolrich uses this intense nature of Marshall's to keep the suspense level high. So high, in fact, that a couple of scenes -- if the tension were just one notch higher -- would work just as well played as comedy. But no one is laughing as the events in Fright get darker and darker still (shocking even this jaded reader; I can only imagine how they affected the 1950 audience), culminating in a tragic ending that twists all that came before (but you have to pay attention to details to pick up on its real significance).

This is a terrifically suspenseful dark crime novel from an author whose name is synonymous with noir among those who know the subgenre. Used copies of the "George Hopley" original (and, until now, only) edition of Fright can run upwards of fifty dollars, and it is great to see this Cornell Woolrich classic revived by Hard Case Crime for a much less upsetting price.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x942b72c4) out of 5 stars Another masterpiece unearthed by Hard Case Crime 25 Sept. 2007
By Noirgirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Noir fans everywhere should celebrate Hard Case Crime for its reprinting of several lost masterpieces. This book by Cornell Woolrich is, in my opinion, the best one yet. We should all buy as many Hard Case Crime books as possible so that they will keep getting these books back into print for us.

Okay. Now that I've got that little speech out of the way - onto the book. It's fantastic from the first page. Like most of Woolrich's books, you can feel the agony and despair jumping right off the page, building to an almost intolerable crescendo by the end. This is an amazing, tragic psychologocial portrait of a man gone wrong for reasons you can somehow understand. Woolrich for me is a masterful writer, even better than Jim Thompson, in the way he gets you deep into the psychology of a person who should be completely unsympathetic, and takes you right along while that character does some terrible things. Woolrich never loses his humanity when he does this.

In addition to a great, suspenseful plot that finally boils over, all of the characterizations here are fantastic. Woolrich was ahead of his time in writing complex, believable, interesting female characters and this book is no exception. He captures the particular suffering of men and women of a certain era so well in this book. There are never any truly happy characters in Woolrich's books (are there? I can't think of any) but you won't want it any other way. If you love noir, get this book!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x942b76fc) out of 5 stars A knock out 30 July 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fright is a terrific book. Cornell Woorich managed to combine a thriller with sheer pyschological horror. It is one of the most twisted and downright disturbing things I've ever read and had got to be the most tragic thing Hard Case Crime has published yet.

Press Marshall is a lucky boy. He's handsome, smart, got a good job that is only going to get better and he's going to marry the beautiful, elegant and rich Marjorie. And then he messes up and everything goes horribly, irrevocably wrong. By the time the book is over Press has snuffed out lives, destroyed his mental health, turned Marjorie's adoration into disgust and fear and transforms himself into a monster.

Watching Press and Marjorie descend into hell is like a fast paced roller coater. I did not put this book down once I got into it and the ending is like a smack upside the head. I'm going in search of more Cornell Woolrich books.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x942b7ac8) out of 5 stars Fear and Agony 1 Sept. 2007
By H. F. Gibbard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Fright," while not one of Cornell Woolrich's best-known novels, is definitely one worth reading. It provides an excellent demonstration of this noir writer's talent for creating an unbearable level of suspense. The hidden secrets and shameful agonies its characters endure make it almost painful to read at times. Woolrich was known as the "Hitchcock of the written word," and this book shows why.

While the novel was first published in 1950, it is set in 1915, a generation earlier, when Woolrich was only twelve years old. This setting during the Progressive Era is ideal. American society had entered a time of moral uplift, sandwiched between the excesses of the Gilded Era past and the Roaring Twenties yet to come. Victorian probity held sway. The whorehouses, no longer a genial rite of passage to be winked at, were being closed. Young men increasingly regarded their indulgences as a guilty secret--a shameful dalliance to be hidden from public knowledge.

Enter Press Marshall, a young man with ordinary desires who is engaged to be married to Marjorie Worth. Marjorie is a sweet young girl from a loving and wealthy Victorian family, naive and perhaps a bit spoiled, but devoted to Press. It is her devotion that will create the climate of agony throughout the novel, as the dark secrets from his past destroy her innocent hopes for wedded bliss.

For there is another woman. A woman of much less innocence and wealth, a coiled viper of a woman who encountered Press at a moment of weakness and has been blackmailing him ever since. When Press takes steps to end her blackmail for good, the horrifying results leave him trapped in a web of unendurable guilt and anxiety. His flailing attempts to escape only pull him in deeper and deeper and deeper still...creating a living hell for both Press and Marjorie. The end result is horrifying, as unsparing as any tragic ending in classic literature.

The book ends with an aftermath that unveils an even more shocking twist. The sophisticated reader may anticipate the suprise, but it still packs a punch. The best thing about this novel is Woolrich's unsentimental approach to the senselessness of it all. For such is the essence of noir.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x942b7bac) out of 5 stars Marshall's tension almost unbearably becomes the reader's own 16 Jan. 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cornell Woolrich is perhaps best known for his novel REAR WINDOW, famously adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock. But he created an amazing and enviable body of work that ultimately earned him the title "The Father of Noir Fiction." Indeed, he is often ranked with Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner and Raymond Chandler.

FRIGHT is not one of Woolrich's better known works; published under the pen name "George Hopley," it has been out of print for over five decades. Many of the incidents that occur in this book appear to be written less as chapters and more as vignettes that seem to cut away unexpectedly, revealing what is to occur only later, if at all. It's difficult to tell if Woolrich was utilizing a stylistic tool or simply engaging in whimsy. Yet, taken as a whole, this is as stunning and as suspenseful a work as you might ever read.

Written in 1950, FRIGHT is set in 1915. The social mores, inventions and language that had evolved and devolved between the beginning and the middle of the 20th century seem even more remote and out of place in our current era. Constants remain, however, as is demonstrated when we meet Preston Marshall, a young man who is working for a brokerage firm but who seeks higher status. When he meets and becomes engaged to a young woman named Marjorie Worth, the attainment of his quest seems assured. Marshall, we are informed by our omnipresent narrator, loves Worth, yet there is almost immediately an issue raised as to her motivation. Still, he courts her and proposes, and she accepts.

During one unfortunate evening, however, Marshall goes out for a night of drinking and some weeks later is confronted by a young woman who begins to blackmail him. What starts as one payment becomes several, culminating in a demand made on the day of Marshall and Worth's wedding. Marshall strangles his tormentor, but his problems are just beginning. Unable to tell his new wife what he has done, he fears discovery of his act and accepts employment far from New York.

Yet Marshall feels that every glance is accusatory, every inquiry into his business an investigation. Certain that he is being pursued by the authorities, Marshall reacts badly to each and every occurrence, with the result that his sins are heinously multiplied, and his life --- with a woman who loves him far more than he deserves --- collapses under the weight of them.

Woolrich does an amazing job of transforming Marshall's anxiety and guilt into print, to the extent that Marshall's tension almost unbearably becomes the reader's own. The tragedies that slowly unfold as the result of one bad act portend what is almost certain to be an ominous ending. FRIGHT may well be Hard Case Crime's darkest release to date. It is almost inconceivable that this twisted morality tale has remained out of print for so long.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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