Book Review: Night has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich
|As always, Molly has her review posted first. We’ll attribute this to the time difference and not my procrastination. -Colin
I have been craving a good mystery novel lately. Something about fall and the change in temperature and it getting darker early makes this time of year the perfect time to curl up under a blanket and read about murder. I was thrilled when, upon visiting Powells not to long ago, I learned that Cornell Woolrich’s Night has a Thousand Eyeswas republished. Woolrich is notoriously out-of-print, so I end up picking up his novels used whenever they get stocked at Powells.
Night has a Thousand Eyes is a unique take on the murder mystery genre. It is a murder mystery without a murder. You see, the plot revolves around Detective Tom Shawn who, while walking home one night, prevents a wealthy young woman, Jean, from killing herself. She then tells Shawn the events leading up to that point. Basically, there’s this man who has been able to predict the future and is never wrong. The girl’s father used this man’s knowledge for his own personal gain, but the man has predicted that a lion will kill the girl’s father. Both Jean and her father become depressed believing this to be true. After all, the man is never wrong. Shawn enlists the help of his fellow detectives to prove the man is a fraud and to keep the father alive past his fated death on a particular day.
Woolrich is a master of suspense. There are scenes in this book that were just so compelling that I couldn’t put them down (i”m thinking in particular of the roulette scene). These scenes may seem to drag out, but they prolong the suspense. It’s kind of like a balloon that is slowly inflating until it pops. The whole novel lives up to this method and never resolves the question of whether the fortuneteller is a fraud or the real thing until the very end. There is much that could probably be said about the ending, but this is not the place. Go read the book, then we can talk.
There are some slow parts however. Jean recounting the events leading up to her attempted suicide, which including meeting the man and his predictions, take up about a third of the novel. It’s only after Shawn commits to saving her father from being killed by a lion does the pace quicken and things start happening.
Overall, Night has a Thousand Eyes is a fantastic mystery that I can’t recommend enough.
Night has a Thousand Eyes
By Cornell Woolrich
Two Things I Like:
1) Fan of the author
Two Things I Hated:
1) Starts slow
2) The father’s lack of common sense
Why I Read It:
Read other stories from this author and loved them all.
Gun to my head, would I recommend this book?