A few weeks ago I received these books from Constable & Robinson. Delighted to see that these titles are being reissued and when I saw them I was taken back to the 1960s and my days of mini-skirtdom and knee high boots and I so remember reading these books and how they chilled me to the marrow.
Rosemary's Baby is just so chilling and I remember the awful feeling creeping up on me after Rosemary became pregnant and her eccentric neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavel started taking a special interest in her welfare and I knew that something horrid was going to happen. It is the fear and isolation felt by Rosemary that is so scary as we gradually realise that her husband is involved in these ghastly plans. I remember well my reaction when I finished the book and how I shivered and how it preyed on my mind for some time after.
The Stepford Wives - another chilling story about all the beautiful people living in idyllic Stepford full of successful satisfied husbands and their vapid wives. Joanna Eberhart arrives with her husband and two children and cannot quite believe what she is seeing, it seems all too good to be true from the Sweet Welcome Wagon lady to all the friendly faces in the supermarket checkout desks (that is enough to make anyone realise that something is not right). Of course we know something nasty is lurking in the woodshed and when I found out what it was, oooh once again that chill crept over me.
The Boys from Brazil - in this book Dr Josef Mengele is alive and well and living in South America and with a group of former colleagues is plotting to create the Fourth Reich. Nazi hunter Yakov Liebermann finds out about the plot but before he can find out more his source is murdered. When this title was originally published it was only thirty years after the Second World War and so much closer in time than I realised when I first read it. At seventeen or eighteen one thinks thirty years is a long time ago but looking at the time it was written, I now realise how close it still was, all those memories of the terrible things that had happened and I shiver again. It was only some eleven years earlier that the trial of Adolf Eichmann had taken place....
A Kiss Before Dying - this is the title out of the four that I remember the most. Gripping from the first page with no let up and leading the reader up and down a garden path, shock after shock, I still think this is one of the best thrillers and portrait of a psychotic personality I have ever read, and get this, Ira Levin wrote this when he was 23 - yes 23. Blimey.
The 'hero' is a killer and we know this as soon as we start reading. Handsome, the all American boy with a terrible flaw in his personality. HIs girl friend gets pregnant - she is the daughter of a rich man who he wants to impress and knows that this ain't gonna help when he turns up with his despoiled virgin daughter. So what does he do? He decides to murder her. Later when her sister, suspicious of her sister's 'suicide' decides to do a bit of investigating on her own, she soon finds herself in the killer's orbit. But is she? Is the golden haired blue eyed boy the real killer or is he just what he says he is? Ira Levin dazzles us with sleight of hand until we don't know who to trust. Brilliant.
All of these titles have been made into movies and I remember watching all of them on the TV. If you see them listed do watch them. They are all excellent though not sure I could watch Rosemary's Baby again as it scared me witless.
Four classics now available again and I urge you to read them - they are still as good and as scary as they were the day they were written.