cover image Night Call and Other Stories of Suspense

Night Call and Other Stories of Suspense

Charlotte Armstrong, edited by Rick Cypert and Kirby McCauley. Crippen & Landru (, $30 (328p) ISBN 978-1-936363-06-3

Crippen & Landru again rescues a gifted writer from obscurity with this collection of 13 short stories and two novelettes. Armstrong (1905%E2%80%931969) succeeded by introducing noir into her work, placing her everyday protagonists in nightmarish situations that are all the more unsettling because of their prosaic settings. In "Mink Coat, Very Cheap," a woman answers a classified ad offering a mink coat for sale, only to find herself suspected of wrongdoing when the police can't verify her account of how she got the fur. In "The Case for Miss Peacock," a reserved librarian who's a stranger in a small town is accused of gunpoint robbery. The highlights are the two novelettes. In "The Second Commandment," after a minister pulls over his car on a foggy road so his wife can answer the call of nature, she ends up dead. And in the Kafkaesque "Man in the Road," a woman's return to her hometown is disrupted when she hits someone in the road, only to find the details of the accident she recalls don't jibe with the police findings. Simple prose adds to the feeling of reality Armstrong aims for. (July)