A nightmare is haunting Daisy Harker. Night after night she walks a strange cemetery in her dreams, until she comes to a grave that stops her in her tracks. It’s Daisy’s own, and according to the dates on the gravestone she’s been dead for four years.
What can this nightmare mean, and why is Daisy’s husband so insistent that she forget it? Driven to desperation, she hires a private investigator to reconstruct the day of her dream death. But as she pieces her past together, her present begins to fall apart…
Margaret Millar (1915-1994) was the author of 27 books and a masterful pioneer of psychological mysteries and thrillers. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she spent most of her life in Santa Barbara, California with her husband Ken Millar, who is better known by his nom de plume of Ross Macdonald. Her 1956 novel Beast in View won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Novel. In 1965 Millar was the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year Award and in 1983 the Mystery Writers of America awarded her the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement. Millar’s cutting wit and superb plotting have left her an enduring legacy as one of the most important crime writers of both her own and subsequent generations.
I was introduced to the novels of Margaret Miller through these beautiful Pushkin Vertigo reissues – this is my third now and they have all been brilliant. Anyone thinking that the psychological thriller and unreliable narrator tropes are a recent Gone Girl lead phenomenon might want to delve into these, Margaret Miller is an original master of the art which Gillian Flynn (amongst others) rebooted so beautifully.
What this author did, probably better than anyone else even now, was come up with extraordinarily intriguing inciting events – in this case a dream of death – then manages to follow it up with intensely involving narratives and classically twisted endings. Each of her novels are different from the others but all have that same atmospheric sense to them and all are beautifully written and hugely addictive.
There is a gorgeous old school noir feel to the prose like watching an old black and white movie playing out on the page. Her characters are drawn with a pitch perfect eye and the nuanced changes of direction are cleverly placed.
A Stranger In My Grave is gripping all the way through and has an emotive well imagined solution that is hugely satisfying. One to read in a single sitting.