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Paperback A Stranger in My Grave Book

ISBN: 1558820663

ISBN13: 9781558820661

A Stranger in My Grave

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. Young housewife Daisy Harker's world is upended when a blank spot in her memory and a reoccurring nightmare link her to an unsolved murder and a decades-old conspiracy Jim and Daisy Harker are a...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

One of her best

Margaret Millar is somewhat of a hidden treasure among American "mystery writers." (She was originally from Canada, but her many years of living in California with her writer-husband Ross McDonald give us Americans a claim on her). What makes her unusual, and special, within the genre is the way so many of her novels subtly and eloquently examine the emotional toll taken on people by the small things that haunt their lives, create inner conflict or despair. But also joys. While I've only read less than half of her novels thus far, every one of them shows rich detail of the interior lives of some of the characters. Many of the books deal with the subtle distinctions between economic classes, races and haves vs. have-nots. Nothing is simple within the lives of her characters, and often the most downtrodden get the most compassion, though never in an overt or obvious way. A STRANGER IN MY GRAVE lands squarely in the center of most of her themes. Like many of her books it's set in San Felice, California (a fictionalized version of her home of Santa Barbara). Her cast of characters span backgrounds from the upper middle-class suburban white people to Mexican-Americans in various degrees of economic success or failure. All of Ms. Millar's books have strong or interesting women in central roles, and this one is no different. There is also a beleagered detective whose somewhat troubled personality grows on us. There are vivid and unusual types throughout the book, especially among the Latina women, and Ms. Millar shows great understanding of the problems of being poor, of being excessively religious, of being trapped in a certain kind of false behavior to maintain a marriage, of being discriminated against because of one's race, and of being an alcoholic (there is a fascinating a vivid portrait of one alcoholic central to this book). There are no villains, because everyone is ultimately shown to be human, despite their flaws and how much effort the sustenance of their own humanity and dignity sometimes takes. But lest this sound like a depressing book, it is not. While it doesn't achieve the kind of poetry that certain of her other novels approach (of the ones I've read, THE IRON GATES and THE CANNIBAL HEART seemed the most poetic), it still has an impressive degree of understanding and compassion for people, a compelling narrative and a rich array of characters whose personal musings make for fascinating reading. Like life, there are loose ends which don't all clean up quickly. But she always captures a bit of truth about our existence -- it's not tidy, it's not always within our control, but there is always the possibility of a little redemption or a small choice that can make a difference. It's interesting to note that while her books from the 1940s seem very progressive and contemporary, some of her books from the late 50s and early 60s seem to capture that whole post-war repressed-housewife-rigid-code-of-suburban-beh

Interesting psychological noir mystery reflecting 1960 mores

The mystery is built on the theme of a married woman who dreams she visits her gravestone which shows her deathday four years earlier. This novel, written at the start of the 1960s, reflects the social mores of its time. For example, the lead character, an adult woman, is treated as if she were a child who needs guidance from adult males, racially demeaning attitudes are expressed toward those of Mexican descent, mothers try to control and mettle significantly more in their adult daughters lives then occurs in today's stories, etc.. Although the number of characters in this novel is relatively small, the protagonist is a woman, and the story deals primarily with family matters, this is a psychological noir rather than a cozy mystery. The story starts, gently and interestingly, and holds your attention throughout. The mystery unfolds in a satisfactory straight line manner with few "red herrings". However, those who enjoy happy endings may be somewhat disappointed. The physical structure of the story makes this a particularly enjoyable read. The book is divided into three main sections: 'The Graveyard', 'The City', and 'The Stranger'. Within these sections chapters are short, providing a sense of rapid progress through the story and making it easy to pause at a close breakpoint at almost anytime. If you find a cast of characters helpful as you read a novel, you may want to print the following: -Daisy Fielding Harker - The main character and the lady with the dream -Jim Harker - Daisy's husband -Stella - The Harker's maid -Ada Fielding - Daisy's divorced mother -Stan Fielding - Daisy's divorced but now remarried father -Murial Fielding - Stan Fielding's current wife -Steve Pinata - Bail bondsman and private investigator who Daisy hires -Adam Burnett - A lawyer and old friend of Jim Harker -Charles Alston - Neighbor Clinic Director -Carlos Theodore Camilla - Name about which more is sought -Juanita "Nita" Garcia Donelli - A waitress at the Velada Cafe and mother of six -Joe Donelli - Juanita's husband -Filomena Rosario - Juanita's mother -Mrs Brewster - Owner of the Velada Cafe and friend of Juanita's mother

Excellent Family and Social Psychology Novel...

This Reader's Digest Reissue of M. Millar's "Stranger.." is long overdue. Most interestingly, the author is very similar to her late husband, the better known Ross MacDonald (Ken Millar) in exploring hidden family secrets, without the hard-boiled detective (usually Lew Archer) that made her husband famous. But Mrs. Millar is expert at depicting all social classes, including Mexian immigrants, and their family interests, and has a sly humor that keeps this book amusing thruout. Possibly the book drags a bit, but still a top drawer family history suspense novel!
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