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Rendezvous in Black (A Modern Library 20th Century Rediscovery) Paperback – March 16, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Along with Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich practically invented the genre of noir.”

From the Inside Flap

On a mild midwestern night in the early 1940s, Johnny Marr leans against a drugstore wall. He's waiting for Dorothy, his fiancee, and tonight is the last night they'll be meeting here, for it's May 31st, and June 1st marks their wedding day. But she's late, and Johnny soon learns of a horrible accident--an accident involving a group of drunken men, a low-flying charter plane, and an empty liquor bottle. In one short moment Johnny loses all that matters to him and his life is shattered. He vows to take from these men exactly what they took from him. After years of planning, Johnny begins his quest for revenge, and on May 31st of each year--always on May 31st--wives, lovers, and daughters are suddenly no longer safe.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812971450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812971453
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #817,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At last! "Rendezvous in Black," the greatest suspense novel from the greatest suspense writer of all time, Cornell Woolrich, is back in print in a handsome trade paperback edition. Do not pass up this chance to encounter one of the most startling, emotionally rattling, and beautifully written pieces of noir in American literature. "Rendezvous in Black" is nothing short of a masterpiece: strange, horrifying, sometimes illogical, stark, achingly poetic, and ultimately devastating.
Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968) was the father of noir. Originally an author of `disaffected youth' novels in the jazz era, Woolrich turned to suspense and mystery stories for the pulp magazines in the mid-thirties. In 1940 he wrote the novel "The Bride Wore Black," kicking off a hugely creative period in which he wrote eleven novels (sometimes under the pseudonyms William Irish or George Hopely) between 1940 and 1948, concluding with "I Married a Dead Man" (available in the compilation "Crime Novels: American Noir of the 30s and 40s" and also one of his best works). Woolrich then entered a long phase of writer's block, turning out a few more novels and stories before he died an alcoholic recluse. His work is deeply concerned with doom and fate, people trapped in an uncaring world, the slow loss of love, and the inevitability of death. Through it all flows his incredible sense of pacing -- he can wring you dry with "races against the clock" that make your chest pound like race car piston -- and his stunning word magic that can break your heart with just a sentence.
"Rendezvous in Black" is the second-to-last novel of his major period, and it seems to return to the plot of "The Bride Wore Black"...at least on the surface.
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Format: Paperback
How could anyone not love Cornell Woolrich? He ranks right up there with James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler as one of the godfathers of pitch-black noir. Unfortunately, Woolrich's voluminous short stories and his many novels for the most part remain out of print. No excuse exists to merit such blatant disrespect. Happily, several Woolrich works have begun to reemerge to the delight of noir fans. For example, Woolrich biographer and all around noir aficionado Frances M. Nevins edited a collection of fourteen delightfully bleak stories in the recent "Night & Fear." Now we have "Rendezvous in Black" thanks to the Modern Library publishing house. We can only hope that other novellas head to store shelves soon, specifically "The Bride Wore Black" and "Night Has A Thousand Eyes." But even more fascinating than his stories is the author's life. Cornell Woolrich lived from one black depression to another. He worshipped his mother, drank incessantly, and kept his true sexuality repressed. It was an overriding fear of his mortality and the cruel randomness of the world around him, however, which fueled his desolate visions. Sad to say, but Woolrich's miseries have given generations of fans something to sing about ever since.

"Rendezvous in Black" excels as an archetype of white knuckled, totter on the edge of your seat noir, a story even better than the author's phenomenal and oft copied "I Married a Dead Man." This yarn concerns the activities of one Johnny Marr, an ecstatic young man set to marry the love of his life. When his girl, Dorothy, perishes in a freak accident involving a bottle dropped from a low flying plane, Marr's sanity melts away.
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Format: Paperback
This is a suspense story in which one knows the killer and his victims and where there is nothing random about his choice of victims. The murders are acts of revenge against an unpremeditated, accidental death - a death that one can only characterize as 'fateful.' A bottle has been thrown from an airplane, killing a young woman standing by a store window in a busy street. She is waiting for her fiance. Out of the hundreds of people walking that street, it is she who has been dealt this fatal blow. It is an accident that could not have been foreseen, though it can be argued, that its negligence might have been anticipated.

That is the beginning of the story. Woolrich wastes no time in setting the psychological tone. Her fiance arrives at their place of rendezvous, the scene of the accident, looks at the stricken woman, denies that it is his "Dorothy", then leaves the scene. Despite this initial denial, he knows, of course, that it is she, and from that moment a cataclysmic change occurs in his personality and his present world falls apart - a world of romance, marriage and well being. He sheds all innocence and becomes a man singularly possessed - a man seeking revenge against the carelessness of other men - determined to have them pay for this carelessness in the same way he has been forced to pay - destruction of what they prize most.

It is a story, wonderfully told - direct, gripping and so thoroughly credible that you read through it quickly, hoping against hope that it will have a happy ending. But it doesn't.
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