Phantom Lady

Phantom Lady❰EPUB❯ ✷ Phantom Lady Author William Irish – Phantom lady I was with you for six hours last night but I can't remember what you look like or what you wore except for that large orange hat We sat shoulder to shoulder at a little bar in the east F Phantom Lady I was with you for six hours last night but I can't remember what you look like or what you wore except for that large orange hat We sat shoulder to shoulder at a little bar in the east Fifties We ate dinner together saw a Broadway show together shared a cab togetherThe bartender the waiter the usher the cab driver none of them remembers you The police say I was home strangling my wife at the moment I met youYou are the only one who can prove my story but I don't know your name or where you live And I can't search for you from a jail cell. ”Time he thought is a greater murderer than any man or woman Time is the murderer that never gets punished” Cover of the Centipede Press edition painted by Matt MahurinThe first chapter is titled The Hundred and Fiftieth Day Before the Execution These words usher in a black cloud of impending doom Color fades and is replaced by the shadowy gray scale of the 1940s noir movies I can feel my nerve endings start to tingle and the piano wire that holds my skeleton together stretches tight Cornell Woolrich was already manipulating me before I even had a chance to pour a couple of fingers of bourbon or roll a matchstick between my teeth Scott Henderson has a fight with his wife Not that the evening was going to be pleasant because he was going to be asking her for a divorce but he had bought tickets to a nice musical show and had booked a restaurant that had fond memories for both of them These were plans made with the best of intentions but the fickleness of fate was vibrating a few strings that would insure that the evening went nothing like he planned There were a lot of things he should have done different Alan Curtis who died tragically young played Scott Henderson in the movieThe evening with his wife never happens In fact after strafing each other with words that leaves hot shrapnel buried deep in his belly Scott storms out of the apartment and soon finds himself in a bar with a handful of scotch and glass A woman is there ”There was something flat about her The light had gone out; the impact of her personality was soggy limp She was just some woman in black with dark brown hair; something that blocked the background that was all Not homely not pretty not tall not small not chic not dowdy; not anything at all just plain just colorless just a common denominator of all feminine figures everywhere A cipher A composite A Gallup poll”She was as memorable as a gray sky except for the hat she was wearing It was an orange flame of color that draws the eye and somehow elevates her from ordinary to extraordinary On a whim he asks the woman in the hat to help him use the tickets An odd thing to do but then he works for a living and earned dollars always have value He can’t just tear up the tickets to the show No names no shared histories between them what is the point after all they will never see each other again They go to dinner catch a cab go to the show and part from each other at the end of the evening knowing next to nothing about each other He comes home to a house full of detectives and a dead wifeI can’t think of a better way to put a man in the frame than to strangle his wife with his own necktie I have around thirty stranglers in my closet I hadn’t really thought of my ties as weapons but in a pair of strong hands a tie becomes a very capable murder weapon None of it really makes sense to the cops but the evidence is strong against Scott His story is hackneyed and unbelievable He can barely remember the woman or really even that much about the evening As the cops follow up on his movements that night everyone who is interviewed remembers him but doesn’t remember the woman The woman has become a phantom The cops have their case after all murder investigations are generally just a matter of following the numbers They have than enough evidence to put Scott in the electric chair This is the ultimate nightmare right? You know you are innocent but all the evidence points to you You start to uestion your own sanity and start to imagine the possibility that the tie was gripped in your hands and death for those crucial seconds must have filled your eyes Ella Raines plays Carol Richman in the 1944 movieCarol Richman his girlfriend otherwise known as his motive for murder doesn’t believe he killed his wife His best friend John Lombard is asked to come back from South America to help find something anything to help stay the execution You might want to take a moment right now and go through your list of friends and acuaintances and think about who would not only stand by you under circumstances such as this but who would also actually stretch their neck out to help save you If your list is short or maybe even nonexistent then your list is a match for mine As Lombard and Richman track down each of the witnesses and begin to break down their stories the plot starts to feel like script pages from the movie Angel Heart Witnesses that finally crack are found dead before they can tell their tale to the cops The clock is ticking and as the days and the hours count down everyone becomes and desperate After all it doesn’t do any good to prove Scott is innocent after the switch has been thrown The atmosphere of the novel is one of tension from the beginning to the end The helpless terror felt by all the characters is palpable The witnesses are sueezed The searchers are overwhelmed by the urgency of their task The dialogue is boiled and boiled again until it hits the reader like lead weights If you feel safe Woolrich will make you feel unsafe If you are level headed and see the world with clear eyes this novel will wrap your heart in paranoia and strap dirty shot glasses over your eyes Many of Woolrich’s novels and short stories were turned into films The Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window was probably the most famous and best adaptation of one of his stories The famed French director Francois Truffaut also used Woolrich creations for two of his movies The director Robert Siodmak filmed Phantom Lady for release in 1944 That year was a maruee year for film noir They didn’t call it film noir in 1944 but Hollywood was starting to discover that Americans would pay to see dark gritty mysteries Ten key films were released in 1944 and those films ushered in an avalanche of great noir films Murder My SweetPhantom LadyLauraChristmas HolidayGaslightMinistry of FearThe LodgerThe Woman in the WIndowExperiment PerilousI read the Centipede Press edition of this book This edition included an introduction by Barry N Malzberg He knew Woolrich for the last year of his life ”And there the old man sat poised rigid on a red chair in the red lobby of the Sheraton Russell Hotel” Woolrich was beyond lonely with no significant person in his life after his mother died He even offered his last editor a deal to move in with him and he would leave his estate to him The editor decided to pass which I wonder if he realized he was giving up a couple of million dollars Hollywood had been good to Woolrich’s bank account Malzberg had his wife meet Woolrich She makes an assessment of Woolrich which sounds right on the money to me ”He’s a sad old man” She pauses “But he’s a cunning sad old man” Cornell WoolrichA biographer considered him the fourth best crime writer of his day behind Dashiell Hammett Raymond Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner It’s always been hard for me to place numbers next to writer’s names but I will say that if you like those writers you should be reading Cornell Woolrich as well If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at Book has the following inscription To Barry from CornellThe book is Black cloth greensilver lettersstamp to spine Book has the following dedication To Apartment 605 Hotel M in unmitigated thankfulness at not being in it any This is the story of the countdown to the execution of a man for premeditated murderHenderson is on death row for the killing of his wife and his is fighting to keep his sanity as nobody first of all the judge and the jury in his case believed his alibi that he spent the night of the murder in the company of an unknown woman that he doesn't know her name and he doesn't remember anything about her face or body Nothing except the fact that she wore a ridiculous and glaring orange hat with a foot long feather on top Nobody remembers seeing them together not the barman at the place where they met not the taxi driver who took them downtown the usher at the theatre the drummer in the band stand the beggar that accosted them not even the lead singer in the revue who wore the exact same model of orange hat Henderson is about to lose his sanity starting to doubt his memory about the night he spent with this unknown lady who disappeared right afterward not even leaving a glass slipper behind like CinderellaWoolrich Irish is in top form as he ramps out the tension for the countdown to the execution as he sets up an amazing series of scary encounters in the dark between a couple of Henderson'a friends and those witnesses who didn't back up his alibi These episodes appear to me forced and tacked onto the main story for special effects but I must admit that the author finds a way to explain the discrepancy between the accounts of Henderson and of the witnesses in a satisfactory and timely manner By timely I mean the good old fashioned last minute dash to outrun the countdown clockThe best part of the story for me is the manner in which the author captures the mental anguish of several cast members through action and setting and not mainly though introspective musings It's a strongly visual and streamlined style that almost begs for a movie adaptation and also explains some of the succes of the Robert Siodmak version Favorite scenes include a silent confrontation on an elevated train platform and a slightly over the top performance by the Latino singer in her boudoirSince I mentioned the classic noir movie I should also mention that I actually liked the screen version better than the book for eliminating some of the most difficult to accept premises of the novel view spoiler like the inexplicable memory lapse of Henderson or the two very convenient suicides of key witnesses; the speed the witnesses were bribed on the very same night; the poor police work that allowed a killer to strike twice after he was first identified as a suspect The movie turns the suicides into accidents and eliminates altogether an unnecessary crime The movie also reveals the identity of the killer early not a great loss since he is sort of obvious to the experienced reader hide spoiler Entertaining but implausible Scott Henderson uarrels with his wife and storms out of the house to go cool his heels Finding himself with two show tickets and no one to use them he arrives at an arrangement with a woman he meets in a bar He takes her to dinner and the show and then drops her off back where they met No romance No names exchanged On returning home he finds a fatal flaw in his plan He now needs his nameless escort for another purpose as an alibiThus begins a race against the clock ominously portrayed by chapter headings counting down from The Hundred and Fiftieth Day Before the Execution As the days fly by Henderson reaches out to what few friends he has left to enlist their aid in finding the invisible companion that nobody remembers seeing Cornell Woolrich writing as William Irish spins a tale with all the psychological intensity of Hitchcock’s best movies Unfortunately the reader is asked to believe one whopper too many The story ultimately collapses beneath the weight of the labyrinthine machinations that the killer carries out to keep the plot going To Woolrich’s credit he did manage to keep me from figuring out the killer’s identity until the last minute Bottom line Despite its implausibilities the twists and turns in Phantom Lady will appeal to lovers of noir fiction 3 starsFYI On a 5 point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements5 Stars – Nothing at all If it ain’t broke don’t fix it4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is3 Stars – A solid C grade Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work A good start would be to change the plot the character development the writing style and the ending 1 Star The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire I read the Chinese translation of Phantom Lady by Cornell Woolrich and I'm satisfied with the intensive plot the perfect noir aura the impossible odds the characters must go up against and eventually the stunning final plot twistReading this book is like watching an old schooled black and white Hollywood thriller and guess what? There is also no annoying romance and stuff hard boiledMy review for I Married A Dead Man In watching the movie last night I decided that I wasn't in love with the adaptation and I have to cry foul regarding one huge misstep in my opinion that made me want to walk away from the movie even though the film definitely had some very good moments Between movie and novel to me it is definitely a case of book is better I've written about this novel and the film at my reading journal if anyone is interested Warning there are potential spoilers there so don't be so eager to click if you don't want to know Cornell Woolrich wastes absolutely no time in throwing out a conundrum and starting this novel on the right foot the first chapter heading states The Hundred and Fiftieth Day Before the Execution and in doing so sets up the first uestion Who are we talking about here and why is heshe on hisher way to the chair? By chapter five and the Ninety First day before the execution and we're still not too far into the novel it becomes very obvious that what we are looking at here is a virtual race against time only some few pages earlier we were still reading about the One Hundred and Forty ninth Day Before the Execution The tension is set time moves faster as the story moves forward although for the players things are moving excruciatingly slowly Phantom Lady is an interesting and very good read from start to finish It's much than the usual wrong man scenario what really sticks out here are the dangling but slowly diminishing hopes of not only the main character but of those battling time in trying to save him as things just constantly go from bad to worse It is definitely a book where the reader can't help but to get caught up in the ongoing tension; it is a novel where anguish is split between what's happening on the page and what's happening in the reader's head And trust me it doesn't stop until the very endPhantom Lady is a novel I would certainly recommend A lot of people have called it Woolrich's best work but I can't speak to that since I haven't read much of his stuff; all I know is that I really really enjoyed this book Well written fast paced mystery about a man falsely accused of killing his wife Sentenced to be executed he gets help from a police detective who thinks he's innocent to find his only alibi that'll save his life And that is the phantom lady he met at a bar at the time his wife was murdered That's easier said than done however and reuires the additional assistance of a friend and a would be girlfriend to search for this mystery woman Many obstacles are encountered as the day of his execution gets closer and closer Will they find her in time? The author had me uickly turning the pages of this book to find out A terrific read “We’ re just companions for an evening Two people having dinner together seeing a show together No names no addresses no irrelevant personal references and details” Scott Henderson is a condemned man Time is of the essence His wife a victim of apparent foul play; yet Henderson maintains his innocence All clues point to him and now he awaits his death sentence A woman who he was with could prove an alibi but where is she? She’s a phantom no one knows her no one has seen her It’s as if she has literally become invisible Above all things I think Phantom Lady is an effective mystery in that it excels in holding us in suspense for the majority of the plot Part of the mystery is uncovering bits and pieces that could possibly give credibility to Henderson’s case but there is also a bit of a mystery figuring out why everyone involved is so hush hush about this ill fated night As we get further into the case and as Henderson awaits the days until his execution Woolrich pushes us closer with hints and clues careful not to reveal too much Moreover there is an unexpected event a twist that definitely threw me for a loop Phantom Lady is my first read from Cornell Woolrich and it won’t be my last Woolrich has a way of putting the average individual in very dark and seemingly unmanageable situations and then we see if they can worm their way out There is an aura of fatalism that seems to grip the narrative as well something that reminded me a bit of a David Goodis work If there is one knock on Phantom Lady it is the meticulously detail by detail explanation in the conclusion after the final big reveal We are beat over the head ad nauseum with how it went down Other than that I was very impressed with Phantom Lady and looking forwards to reads from Woolrich My copy of this is in an old book I found called The Best of William Irish this was a pen name he had in the 40s maybe because he produced so much like Richard Bachman? Phantom Lady was pretty good Amazing suspense of course with a strong plot twist at the end I love Woolrich like no other but actually I often find him boring about half the time Only when he is good isolated lines even he is phenomenally astounding They call him the father of noir and I can see this but it's not why I love him COUNTDOWN Mid 20th Century North American Crime BOOK 95 of 250Woolrich is consistently compelling what a dark universe there must have been for him from which to write More on this author later I want to note that every bookwork I read was available through my local library system As I wrote my reviews I received a note from a goodreads member that went something like you MUST include this crime novel in your readathon So then I put a few holds at the library I started with a goal of 25 authors and 50 books That turned into 50 authors and 100 books BUTthere is just so much great work in this time period 1922 1972 Why start at 1922? More on that later alsoHOOK 3 stars The first sentence 3 lines here are as follows The night was young and so was he But the night was sweet and he was sourthat sullen look on his face It was one of those sustained angers Is he to be executed? Someone else? Readers learn shortly but not immediately that a murder has already been committedPACE 3 Woolrich goes deep into his character's minds as here It was happening to him now and it was slowly unnerving him fraying him He was defenseless against it both because he was confined within the semi circle of the bar couldn't walk away from it and also because of its the stare from a strange woman he's never met very nature The control of it rested with her A beam a ray there was no way of warding it off shunting it aside This reads much like a passage in a Patricia Highsmith these 2 authors dig deep into psychological states of mind If you're looking for thrills Mickey Spillane Jim Thompson are just 2 examples you won't find many actionthriller scenes in Woolrich or Highsmith But you'll be chilled to the bonePLOT 3 A young man Scott Henderson leaves his apartment in a 'sour' mood and goes to a bar Beside him is a young woman he has never met but he can't avoid noticing her huge odd orange hat He and she both reach for a bowel of pretzels on the bar they touch A conversation starts and we learn neither has any plans for the evening However Henderson has reservations for 2 at an upscale restaurant and 2 front row tickets for a show The couple strike an agreement they will not exchange names or addresses there will be no personal talk and at the evening after a nightcap at the bar at which they met they will part and that's that Both have nothing else to do neither is particularly interested in started a relationship After all he's wearing a wedding band she notices it and both agree the situation calls for no personal disclosures Later that night they part Henderson goes home and finds the room full of cops as his wife has been strangled to death But Henderson has an alibi Butno lady How could NO ONE have never seen his date? Great high concept idea but there are plot holes thus the 3 star ratingCHARACTERS 4 As I said Woolrich goes deep into his characters head Henderson is totally stunned that 1 his wife is dead and 2 there is no trace of his date and 3 even a cop involved believes Henderson and 4 his friend Lombard takes a leave of absence from his job in South America to help him and 5 Scott's own 'on the side' girl Carol believes him The world famous actress on stage is a bit of stereotypical overwrought Latina but she has some fascinating characteristics including a pet monkey Bibi who takes an immediate liking to Henderson Lombard and Burgess are also deeply studied by the author ATMOSPHERE 4 The feeling of being along in a bar is pitch perfect The feeling of meeting a stranger is just right The feeling of jail time is uncomfortable Each chapter title reveals the number of days left until the execution The title of Chapter 22 is The hour of the execution The author reminds us with every chapter title that time is dwindling fastSUMMARY 34 stars Woolrich consistently delivers there are far better works from this author coming up

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  • Paperback
  • 291 pages
  • Phantom Lady
  • William Irish
  • English
  • 19 October 2016
  • 9780743423731