Review: Beast in View by Margaret Millar

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In contribution to Past Offences #1955book meme of February this year.

Orion Books, 2011. Format: Kindle edition (313KB) First published in the USA in 1955. ISBN: 978-1-7802-2031-4. ASIN: B005IYIAJG. Pages 176.


Helen Clarvoe receives a strange phone call from someone who identifies herself as Evelyn Merrick. Apparently that name means nothing to her. Evelyn has just heard that Miss Clarvoe’s father passed away leaving her daughter a lot of money and she wants to help her. Miss Clarvoe doesn’t need her help and believes she’s making a mistake. She has never heard of her. The call ends in a rather disturbing tone. The caller tells her that she is able to see her who has just had an accident and that she is bleeding. Terrified, Miss Clarvoe writes to Mr Blackshear whom, at her father’s funeral, offered her his advice and help, should the occasion arise. At this point we begin to realize that Helen Clarvoe lives confined in a hotel room since her father’s death and that she inherited all his fortune. Her mother Verna Clarvoe and her brother Douglas did not inherit anything. The next day, Paul Blackshear arrives at hotel Monica where he finds Miss Clarvoe in her suite. She was waiting for him. After an exchange of pleasantries, Helen entrusts him that she is afraid that someone is stealing her money. That reminds her of the strange phone call of yesterday. Helen doesn’t want to follow Mr Blackshear’s advice and go to the police, but she wants to hire him to find Evelyn Merrick. The only clue is Evelyn’s desire to become immortal, which can only mean that she poses as a model for an artist. And Paul Blackshear, whose experience is reduced to stocks and bonds, begins his search. 

Beast in View has been classified as a psychological thriller. The reader, sometimes, may find him (or herself) completely lost in relation to the unfolding of the events that will come next. But we must persevere, the effort will find its reward. It’s, definitely, a very well written story that provides an interesting view of the human psyche from its darkest side. All in all, a highly satisfying read. Margaret Millar (1915-1994) was born in Ontario, Canada and was educated at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institute and the University of Toronto, majoring in Classics. In 1938 she married Kenneth Millar (who wrote under the name Ross Macdonald). She published her first novel, The Invisible Worm, in 1941 and she worked as a screenwriter for Warner Brothers. She was active in the conservation movement in California in the 1960s and was named a Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles Times in 1965, and in 1982 she became a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America. Beast in View was awarded the Edgar Award in 1956 in direct competition with another superb literary thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Beast in View found a place among the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.

My rating: A (I loved it).

Beast in View has been reviewed at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog (Keishon), the crime segments (NancyO), Mysteries in Paradise (Kerrie) and at Crimeworm

The Orion Publishing Group

Margaret Millar

La bestia se acerca de Margaret Millar

Helen Clarvoe recibe una extraña llamada telefónica de alguien que se identifica como Evelyn Merrick. Al parecer, ese nombre no significa nada para ella. Evelyn acaba de enterarse de que el padre de la señorita Clarvoe falleció dejando a su hija un montón de dinero y quiere ayudarla. La señorita Clarvoe no necesita su ayuda y cree que está cometiendo un error. Nunca ha oído hablar de ella. La llamada termina en un tono bastante inquietante. La persona que llama le dice que ella es capaz de ver que acaba de tener un accidente y que está sangrando. Aterrorizada, la señorita Clarvoe escribe al señor Blackshear quien, en el funeral de su padre, le ofreció su consejo y ayuda, si se presentaba la ocasión. En este punto empezamos a darnos cuenta de que Helen Clarvoe vive confinada en la habitación de un hotel desde la muerte de su padre y que ella heredó toda su fortuna. Su madre Verna Clarvoe y su hermano Douglas no heredaron nada. Al día siguiente, Paul Blackshear llega al hotel Mónica, donde se encuentra con la señorita Clarvoe en su suite. Ella lo estaba esperando. Tras un intercambio de cumplidos, Helen le confía que ella tiene miedo de que alguien le esté robado su dinero. Eso le recuerda la extraña llamada telefónica de ayer. Helen no quiere seguir los consejos del Sr. Blackshear y acudir a la policía, pero quiere contratarlo para encontrar a Evelyn Merrick. La única pista es el deseo de Evelyn de convertirse en inmortal, lo que sólo puede significar que posa como modelo para un artista. Y Paul Blackshear, cuya experiencia se reduce a acciones y bonos, comienza su búsqueda.

La bestia se acerca ha sido clasificada de thriller psicológico. El lector, a veces, se puede encontrar perdido por completo en relación con el desarrollo de los acontecimientos que vendrán después. Pero debemos perseverar, el esfuerzo encontrará su recompensa. Se trata, sin duda, de una historia muy bien escrita que ofrece una visión interesante de la psique humana de su lado más oscuro. Con todo, una lectura altamente satisfactoria. Margaret Millar (1915-1994) nació en Ontario, Canadá, y fue educada en el Instituto Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate y en la Universidad de Toronto, especializándose en clásicos. En 1938 se casó con Kenneth Millar (que escribió bajo el nombre de Ross Macdonald). Publicó su primera novela, The Invisible Worm, en 1941 y trabajó como guionista para la Warner Brothers. Ella fue activista del movimiento de conservación de California en la década de los 60 y fue nombrada mujer del año por el diario Los Angeles Times en 1965, y en 1982 se convirtió en Gran Maestro de los Escritores de Misterio de América. La bestia se acerca fue galardonada con el Premio Edgar en 1956 en competencia directa con otro thriller literario excelente, El talento de Mr. Ripley de Patricia Highsmith. La bestia se acerca encontró un lugar entre Las cien mejores novelas policíacas de todos los tiempos.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó).


23 thoughts on “Review: Beast in View by Margaret Millar”

  1. I read and reviewed this one too, José, and loved it too! So glad her books are being repackaged and coming out this autumn!

      1. Thjat’s great – I always worry, when reccommending it, that the fact that it proved so influential with other writers that it might have lost the element of surprise – I still remember what a shock it was when i first read it 30 years ago 🙂

  2. Thanks for the mention, Jose. I loved this book, too. I bought a few others by her to read as well.

  3. OK, I’m sold! I’ve read so many good things about Millar, and I will read her soon. I’m glad your pick for the monthly meme was so good.

    1. 1955 seems a not bad year! Of The reviews I’ve seen, no-one seemed overly disappointed – on the contrary, there were some real corkers! I’d quite like to take part, but I have enough trouble keeping up with 2015 books! Still, would be a nice change! Is it Rich at Past Offences does the organisation?

      1. Thanks Jose! I think I’ve read about it on your blog, and Keishon’s, and Col’s too, possibly, so I must have picked it up from somewhere! I’ll go for a wee look – imagine some years have richer pickings than others!

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