Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paperback 569: The Blank Wall / Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (Pocket Books 662)

Paperback 569: Pocket Books 662 (1st ptg, 1950)

Title: The Blank Wall
Author: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
Cover artist: Harvey Kidder

Yours for: $12

PB662.BlankWall

Best things about this cover:
  • Lucia was horrified to find her husband was cheating on her with ... a boat.
  • "Hey, Lucia, this glass-bottomed boat is awesome. I can see, like, fishes and stuff." "Screw the fishes, Harold! My necklace! Do you see my necklace!?"
  • The "jail bait" is off-screen. This here is the MILFy heroine, Lucia. I love this book. You can probably tell by now that I went through a bit of a Holding phase at one point. She's deeply underrated, and this book in particular is a fascinating, domestic twist on the hard-boiled novel. One of my ten favorite crime novels, easy.

PB662bc.BlankWall

Best things about this back cover:
  • "BUT THE TYPEWRITER IS STUCK ON ALL CAPS"

Page 123~
She stood silent, her lashes lowered. She knew that he was looking at her; she knew that she was dark, slender and lovely; she knew that he was waiting for her to look up, and presently she raised her eyes.
Seriously, this is one of the hottest scenes in the book, when you can see (though the novel never has anyone say it outright) that she (respectable wartime housewife) and this hoodlum-turned-savior are kind of in love, in this super-romantic and criminal and impossible way. Things can't, and don't, end well, but their relationship is amazing—unique, compelling, believable. Also, this is a great WWII-era book. Lots of details about ordinary, domestic life during war. Oh, and it deals with race in ways that most crime novels of the period totally avoid. The black housekeeper, Sibyl, is a crucial, well-developed character. Did I mention I love this book? I wish Holding's stuff were more widely available.

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

8 comments:

Graham Powell said...

Wasn't this one made into a pretty good movie about ten years ago? I think they stole a Fredric Brown title and called it THE DEEP END. And that icy English woman was the mom...

Lisa in Oz said...

This sounds fantastic - I'm going to go find a copy. :)

Maughta said...

Have you sold this yet? 'Cause I'm definitely interested.

Anonymous said...

It's actually been made twice (both times very well indeed) - the first time was in 1949, as The Reckless Moment (directed by Max Ophuls, starring Joan Bennett and James Mason). Well worth seeking out. The remake is indeed The Deep End (2001), with Tilda Swinton and Goran Visnjic and a switch in gender for the child. I like the older version better, but it's a close-run thing.

Cristiane

D.A. Trappert said...

Several of Holding's books (but not this one) can be downloaded from munseys.com.

Deniz Bevan said...

Darn it, you make me want to read it. I love books set during the war. can I get it? Has Maughta gotten it instead?

Deb said...

Holding was the Queen of American mid-century domestic crime novels and it's such a shame she isn't read very much anymore. A few years ago, some of her books were republished by (I think) Stark House, but I don't think The Blank Wall (which many think is her best book) was among them.

Sara said...

I picked up a 2002 Book of the month club edition @ Powells on Saturday; The Blank Wall and The Innocent Mrs. Duff in 1 volume. Really looking forward to reading them.