Laura by Vera Caspary

No Series

Source: Purchased

In the doorway of an elegant New York apartment, blood seeps over a silk negligee, over the polished floor and the plush carpet: a beautiful young woman lies dead, her face disfigured by a single gun shot.

But who was Laura? What power did she hold over the very different men in her life? How does her portrait bewitch even Mark McPherson, the hard-bitten detective assigned to find her murderer?

One stormy night, Mark's investigation takes an unexpected turn...

“There are a lot of people who haven't got the brains for their educations.”

First I have to say I haven’t seen the film, am happy to have read the book first since that’s the natural order of things I like to take, and that I plan to watch the well-recommended film as soon as possible.

Laura Hunt is dead, and detective Mark McPherson is assigned to investigate. During the mystery, he relies on the advice and personal insight of one of her mentor and friends, Waldo Lydecker, and shines his suspicious light on her fiancé, Shelby Carpenter.

More than just a simple mystery, the story utilizes an unusual narrative style that goes from Mark’s point of view to McPherson’s, then back again, throwing in a few others for spice. I’m not the biggest fan of revolving points of view in certain mysteries, but here anything else would have dampened the story’s appeal. The narrative style ended up such a unique touch for this story that it’s one of the first things thought of, one of the first things mentioned, and one of the highest achievements this story sought and won.

It’s an interesting take that this story is not involved so much in the solving of a crime, but how the characters are affected by the character and death. Mark becomes more entranced with the character of Laura as he learns about her – through viewing the impressions she’s left on others (like paintings), to learning of her life and through her apartment, through the dedication she’s brought out of her many admirers and suitors. Now he just have to waddle through the mess and find the actual truth. Was she as worthy as the reputation demanded?

There is a surprise in store for the reader, and the author doesn’t wait until the end to bring it out to change the entire stories direction. This story doesn’t stay a straight mystery and it doesn’t hold off on the punches for changing the entire direction of it mid-point.

I can see why it’s considered a classic and why it’s still so highly revered by mystery and crime fans. It gets into the heart and soul of the characters, shines new perspectives on the traits of human obsession and dedications. There was such a small suspect pool that it wasn't hard to guess the culprit during the last phase of the book, but the point of the story isn’t digging out the culprit so much as it is figuring out the depth of genuine emotion and how its inspired. 

   Book Quotes:

“A smile couldn't be brought into court as evidence. You couldn't arrest a man because he had trembled. Brown eyes had stolen a peep at gray eyes, so what? The tone of a voice was something that died with a word.”

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