Psychopaths, murders, runaways; housewives, mothers, daughters. No, this isn’t the latest Gillian Flynn novel. Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a collection of short stories of domestic suspense edited by Sarah Weisman. Domestic suspense revolves around crimes that occur in the home, most often to or by women.
Published in mystery magazines like Black Mask or Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, these stories were written by 14 different women in the past century. The women in the stories range from impoverished geriatrics to glamorous heiresses, runaway daughters to desperate housewives. Every woman has a story, including the women who wrote them. Many wrote for magazines to get through tough times while raising children. Some won awards for their writing before fading into obscurity, although you’re sure to have heard of at least one: Shirley Jackson. Weisman’s project is meant to bring these writers’ work back into the public eye.
A few of my favorites:
Louisa, Please Come Home by Shirley Jackson. Fed up with her home life, Louisa leaves home the day of her sister’s wedding. Afraid of being found, she hides herself in the city, quite successfully, until at last she’s found out. In typical Jackson fashion, there’s a twist that’s both clever and cynical.
Sugar and Spice by Vera Caspary. Who killed the movie star? The poor beauty or the dowdy heiress. The ladies have a long history of jealousy and one up-manship but who is capable of murder?
The Stranger in the Car by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. The family patriarch thinks he has to handle a situation for his women only to find it’s he who’s being handled.
The Purple Shroud by Joyce Harrington. Even hippies get revenge.
Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a good introduction to these writers’ work. I hope to read more from them soon. Give this collection a try yourself.
Thanks to Penguin Group via Netgalley for the review copy.