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Caspary, Vera - LAURA (1943?)


Beautiful and successful advertising executive Laura Hunt is brutally shot in the doorway of her NYC apartment. Police detective Mark McPherson is assigned to the case and makes some progress until the author throws everyone for a loop with a marvelous plot twist. McPherson, who has become hopelessly smitten with the victim by way of her portrait and the various descriptions of her offered by the other characters, is both helped and hampered in his investigation by Laura's overly-possesive friend (writer/critic Waldo Lydecker), her weak of character fiancee (Shelby Carpenter), her sophisticated but needy Aunt (Susan Treadwell) and her loyal blunt spoken maid (Bessie).


The story is narrated from four different viewpoints (Lydecker-Part One, McPherson-Part Two, Carpenter-Part Three. Laura-Part Four, McPherson-Part Five). Laura's section is the slowest moving and least effective; Lydecker's is the most interesting. The identity of the killer and the hiding place of the weapon can be deduced from clues left by the author. This is both a love story (actually several love stories) and a murder mystery. LAURA is one of those (rare?) instances where the film version is superior to the book. Preminger (or the script writers) made several changes which improved the story and made it a film-noir classic.


Bob Schneider 09/08

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