Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday's Forgotten Books: Charlotte Armstrong's The Chocolate Cobweb (1948).

 . . . [W]ho is to guarantee that evil itself wouldn't answer?
—Charlotte Armstrong,
The Chocolate Cobweb 53
 At the urging of author Dorothy Cannell, I read Charlotte Armstrong's The Chocolate Cobweb (1948) and thought its edge-of-the-seat suspense and masterful writing fitting for Patti Abbott's Forgotten Books series. The Chocolate Cobweb was filmed as Merci pour le chocolat (dir. Claude Chabrol, 2000) and features Isabelle Huppert.

Art student Amanda Garth is diverted when she learns that she may have been switched at birth with the son of noted artist Tobias Garrison. Via this episode, she wangles an introduction to Garrison and his immediate circle: his fluffy wife, Ione; his remote son, Thone; and his old actress friend, Fanny Austin. But all is not well. Was the death of Thone's mother, Belle, really an accident? Is the motherly Ione implicated in cold-blooded murder? And are dark events happening all over again?

Charlotte Armstrong Lewi (1905–69) received the Edgar for Best Novel for A Dram of Poison (1956), a favorite book of critic Anthony Boucher. Her novel The Unsuspected (1946) is on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mystery works and was filmed with Claude Rains. Author Jan Burke, in a Clues column, fittingly dubbed Armstrong's work "suburban noir."


pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks so much, Beth. Please do another one soon.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Armstrong getting some attention.

Dean James said...

Well, that previous comment was supposed to have my name attached, but I hit the wrong key...

George said...

I've enjoyed every Charlotte Armstrong mystery I've read. Another underrated writer.