By Margaret Miller
I previously wrote about my love of pulp and noir mysteries, showcasing some of my favorites, and from the list, you can see that it is very much a man’s genre. Which makes sense, I guess; there weren’t as many published women at the time, and the kind of nihilism described in noir novels is kind of the antithesis of traditional femininity.
Margaret Miller is the exception, though, and she is brilliant. Vanish in an Instant, published in 1952, is my favorite, but I’ve read and enjoyed many of her other novels. The thing that makes Vanish in an Instant so exceptional that it is a love story in addition to a murder mystery, which should negate the noir style but only serves to emphasize it, as the two characters cling to their love as a fragile and temporary way to stave off the full bitterness of the world.
This quote captures Miller’s writing, and noir writing in general:
“Outside the wind was fresh, but he had a sensation of suffocating heaviness in his throat and chest, as if the slices of life he had seen in the course of the morning were too sharp and fibrous to be swallowed.”
Yay! I have no idea why this kind of writing gives me such satisfaction, but I do love these noir books and reading them actually brings me a sort of comfort in a way that I cannot analyze at all.
*I’d like to add that my copy is a reissue from the 70s and has much more subtle and attractive cover art.