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Fright (Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2007


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--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. Author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,  and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began writing in the 1920s with novels that won him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald.  --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback) (Book 34)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Hard Case Crime; Reprint edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843957743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843957747
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on September 4, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The year is 1915 -- not the most popular year in which to set a crime novel, to be sure -- but the year is really unimportant, except to make the events that occur in Fright even more shocking than they would have been in 1950, when it was first published under the pseudonym George Hopley.

Preston Marshall is a lucky man. He has a job on Wall Street and a lovely fiancee, but a single drunken night leads to an event that, one week later -- the week after the sinking of the Lusitania, in fact, though the two occurrences are not otherwise connected -- begins his downward spiral into a life where every minute is filled with ... wait for it! ... Fright.

Author Cornell Woolrich is probably best known for writing the novella that Alfred Hitchcock turned into his classic film, Rear Window. (His work has been the basis for numerous radio, TV, and film adaptations, one of the most recent being the Angelina Jolie-Antonio Banderas potboiler Original Sin, loosely based on Waltz into Darkness with all the noir trappings intact.)

All these works share some similarities, despite their different approaches, namely protagonists who respond to the events around them far more dramatically than those events really deserve -- at least at first. Marshall's reactions in Fright get him into a deeper quagmire than his original actions ever would have.

Woolrich uses this intense nature of Marshall's to keep the suspense level high. So high, in fact, that a couple of scenes -- if the tension were just one notch higher -- would work just as well played as comedy.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Noirgirl on September 25, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Noir fans everywhere should celebrate Hard Case Crime for its reprinting of several lost masterpieces. This book by Cornell Woolrich is, in my opinion, the best one yet. We should all buy as many Hard Case Crime books as possible so that they will keep getting these books back into print for us.

Okay. Now that I've got that little speech out of the way - onto the book. It's fantastic from the first page. Like most of Woolrich's books, you can feel the agony and despair jumping right off the page, building to an almost intolerable crescendo by the end. This is an amazing, tragic psychologocial portrait of a man gone wrong for reasons you can somehow understand. Woolrich for me is a masterful writer, even better than Jim Thompson, in the way he gets you deep into the psychology of a person who should be completely unsympathetic, and takes you right along while that character does some terrible things. Woolrich never loses his humanity when he does this.

In addition to a great, suspenseful plot that finally boils over, all of the characterizations here are fantastic. Woolrich was ahead of his time in writing complex, believable, interesting female characters and this book is no exception. He captures the particular suffering of men and women of a certain era so well in this book. There are never any truly happy characters in Woolrich's books (are there? I can't think of any) but you won't want it any other way. If you love noir, get this book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 30, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fright is a terrific book. Cornell Woorich managed to combine a thriller with sheer pyschological horror. It is one of the most twisted and downright disturbing things I've ever read and had got to be the most tragic thing Hard Case Crime has published yet.

Press Marshall is a lucky boy. He's handsome, smart, got a good job that is only going to get better and he's going to marry the beautiful, elegant and rich Marjorie. And then he messes up and everything goes horribly, irrevocably wrong. By the time the book is over Press has snuffed out lives, destroyed his mental health, turned Marjorie's adoration into disgust and fear and transforms himself into a monster.

Watching Press and Marjorie descend into hell is like a fast paced roller coater. I did not put this book down once I got into it and the ending is like a smack upside the head. I'm going in search of more Cornell Woolrich books.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Gibbard on September 1, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Fright," while not one of Cornell Woolrich's best-known novels, is definitely one worth reading. It provides an excellent demonstration of this noir writer's talent for creating an unbearable level of suspense. The hidden secrets and shameful agonies its characters endure make it almost painful to read at times. Woolrich was known as the "Hitchcock of the written word," and this book shows why.

While the novel was first published in 1950, it is set in 1915, a generation earlier, when Woolrich was only twelve years old. This setting during the Progressive Era is ideal. American society had entered a time of moral uplift, sandwiched between the excesses of the Gilded Era past and the Roaring Twenties yet to come. Victorian probity held sway. The whorehouses, no longer a genial rite of passage to be winked at, were being closed. Young men increasingly regarded their indulgences as a guilty secret--a shameful dalliance to be hidden from public knowledge.

Enter Press Marshall, a young man with ordinary desires who is engaged to be married to Marjorie Worth. Marjorie is a sweet young girl from a loving and wealthy Victorian family, naive and perhaps a bit spoiled, but devoted to Press. It is her devotion that will create the climate of agony throughout the novel, as the dark secrets from his past destroy her innocent hopes for wedded bliss.

For there is another woman. A woman of much less innocence and wealth, a coiled viper of a woman who encountered Press at a moment of weakness and has been blackmailing him ever since. When Press takes steps to end her blackmail for good, the horrifying results leave him trapped in a web of unendurable guilt and anxiety. His flailing attempts to escape only pull him in deeper and deeper and deeper still...
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