cover image Into the Night

Into the Night

Cornell Woolrich. Mysterious Press, $16.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-200-6

The events leading to the publication of this book have their own elements of mystery. First, a corpus is discovered: the unpublished works of Cornell Woolrich, a popular writer of the 1940s, remembered for such classics as The Bride Wore Black and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. In its midst is the torso of Into the Night, minus a beginning, end and a few other parts. Lawrence Block, author of the Matt Scudder and Evan Tanner series, is invited to fill in the blanks. The final product is a sort of Frankenstein that claims as its victims the reputations of both writers. The book tells the story of Madeline, a lonely girl who tries to commit suicide. When, to her relief, the gun jams, she tosses it on a table, causing it to discharge a bullet that flies through her window, crosses the street and kills Starr, a girl rather like herself. Filled with guilt, she digs into her victim's past and when she discovers that Starr has been emotionally slain by an ill-fated marriage, she determines to expiate her own crime by plotting the destruction of Starr's husband. Better editing might have expunged the book's conflicting statements, anachronisms and unbelievable coincidences, but one suspects that Woolrich knew exactly what he was doing when he put it aside. (July)