Fright (Hard Case Crime) Mass Market Paperback – 29 Mar 2011
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
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.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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