Collected Millar: The Master at Her Zenith
These five works show Millar to be a brilliant mystery/suspense writer. I’ve reviewed them all separately, and they’re all four or five stars. She really deserves to be more widely read.
Note that the negative reviews of this book on Amazon complain about the small print size, not the content of the works themselves. The print is indeed small. That, combined with large pages and narrow margins makes reading hard on the eyes.
If you’re OK with that, I would absolutely recommend you buy this book. You get several great novels for an excellent price.
If you can’t deal with small print, consider buying some of the titles individually. Most have recently been reissued. Here’s a rundown:
Vanish in an Instant is the earliest of the novels and feels the most dated. If you like vintage 1940s/50s detective stories (or movies), this is a solid and competent example, though not stellar.
Wives and Lovers is the only title in this volume that’s not a mystery. It’s more of a slice-of-life portrait of society in Santa Barbara, CA in the mid 1950s, and in my opinion, it’s a work of superb literary quality.
Beast In View won the Edgar Award for best novel in 1956, and deserved it. Readers who grew up on Gone Girl and Fight Club can thank Millar for pioneering some of the plot twists they enjoyed in those later works.
An Air That Kills is a suspenseful mystery about the disappearance of a man who may or may not have had good reasons to disappear. It shines mostly for its vivid characters and social setting.
The Listening Walls, about a woman who disappears after the death of her friend, may be the most suspenseful title in this volume. This one also stands out for excellent characterization and the ability of a master storyteller to keep her readers off balance and guessing throughout.