Laura by Vera Caspary review

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a lovely New Year. This is my first post of 2018 and it is my review of Laura by Vera Caspary. Set in New York 1941, a young woman is murdered in the doorway of an apartment, her face unrecognisable after a gun shot to the head. It is revealed that the apartment belongs to the beautiful, intelligent Laura Hunt and hard-boiled detective Mark McPherson is sent to uncover her murderer. However while at her apartment, his investigation takes a baffling turn.

Caspary can certainly write. The story is told from four different perspectives, either through one of the characters or a police interview. She uses different styles for each of them to great effect. You are always aware who is speaking and it’s unlikely to cause confusion. For example Mark uses short, to the point language and sentence structure while the more flamboyant writer Waldo Lydecker is much more lyrical (and pretentious) in his prose. The differing writing styles also gives you greater insight into the characters and how they perceive the murder and events that follow. It makes the mystery of the Laura Hunt case all the more interesting as you see it from various angles.

However I did have some problems with the characters. Waldo felt like a caricature at times rather than a well-rounded character. Also his friendship with Laura was odd. I didn’t really believe either would want to befriend the other. I found the relationship between Laura and her fiancé Shelby Carpenter to be more interesting than this friendship. Waldo’s perspective was perhaps my least favourite section of the novel as I found him too ridiculous, and at the beginning almost put the book down because of him. There is also a romance between two of the characters which I found bizarre. It seems to pop out of nowhere and you are just expected to go along with it. Also there are some quite old-fashioned views regarding men and women so certainly in that regard the novella hasn’t aged well.

Overall I found Laura an enjoyable noir thriller. Is it particularly groundbreaking? No, not at all. The characters could have been developed a bit better as some of their actions are downright odd. But it was a good thriller with a couple of decent twists to keep you guessing and Caspary’s writing style is excellent. I think if you are a fan of the 1940s film adaptation starring Gene Tierney  or a diehard noir nut I reckon you might enjoy Laura. Otherwise I think there are better noir thrillers to read than this.

Laura is published by Vintage and you can find more information here.


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