A child is unwittingly introduced to the very meaning of terror. A teenage girl eyes her mother's lover with curiosity and caution. A nasty rumor poisons the reputation of a guarded neighbor. A schoolteacher's attempt to reach four bullying students results in a wicked sting. An elderly woman's patience begins to crack in the most unexpected ways. . . . In this suspenseful anthology, author Charlotte Armstrong illuminates the mysteries of life in tales told from perspectives ranging from infancy, childhood, and adolescence to adulthood and the deathbed. In each piece, Armstrong demonstrates how the tiniest spark of emotion – a stray whisper or the impression of a stranger – can shed light on the past, define the future, become a catalyst for tragedy, or influence fears that last a lifetime. Along with Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine First Prize Winner for Best Detective Story "The Enemy" – a story that was made into the 1952 MGM film noir Talk About a Stranger – this gripping anthology also includes "At the Circus," "The World Turned Upside Down," "The Enemy," "Miss Murphy," "Motto Day," "The Weight of the World," "The Conformers," "How They Met," and "I See You." "I tend to become inarticulate in reviewing Armstrong, largely because the method by which she achieves her magical effect defies critical analysis. You are simply caught up, as you might be by a collaboration of Cornell Woolrich and Shirley Jackson" – Anthony Boucher, The New York Times.
Edgar Award–winning Charlotte Armstrong (1905–1969) was one of the finest American authors of classic mystery and suspense. The daughter of an inventor, Armstrong was born in Vulcan, Michigan, and attended Barnard College, in New York City. After college she worked at the New York Times and the magazine Breath of the Avenue, before marrying and turning to literature in 1928. For a decade she wrote plays and poetry, with work produced on Broadway and published in the New Yorker. In the early 1940s, she began writing suspense. Success came quickly. Her first novel, Lay On, MacDuff! (1942) was well received, spawning a three-book series. Over the next two decades, she wrote more than two dozen novels, winning critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. The Unsuspected (1945) and Mischief (1950) were both made into films, and A Dram of Poison (1956) won the Edgar Award for best novel. She died in California in 1969.
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