by Marvin Lachman


CORNELL WOOLRICH – The Bride Wore Black. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1940. Reprinted many times in both hardcover and soft, including: Pocket #271, 2nd printing 1945; Pyramid #80, 1953, as Beware the Lady; Dell D186, 1957, Great Mystery Library #1; Ace G-699; Collier, 1964; Raven House, 1981; Ballantine, July 1984.

Film: Films du Carosse, 1968, as La mariée était en noir (The Bride Wore Black). Co-screenwriter & director: Francois Truffaut.

   The Bride Wore Black is Cornell Woolich’s first novel and has been reprinted by about half a dozen different paperback houses. If you’ve never read Woolrich, it is a splendid introduction and [when this review was first written] a recent edition from Ballantine may still be available.


   While it is not Woolrich at his very best (for that, you’d have to read pulp novelets like “Goodbye, New York” or later books like Rendezvous in Black, also reprinted by Ballantine), it is very good indeed.

   Woolrich is best known for his heart-stopping suspense, emotional prose, and use of outrageous coincidences. In The Bride Wore Black, we have his usual narrative drive, but the language is a bit more objective than it sometimes is, and the result is a bit less reader involvement than is needed.

   The coincidences are there, in spades, and that makes suspending disbelief a bit tougher than usual. Still, only someone who’s read the best Woolrich would dare to cavil at this book, so don’t miss it if you’ve never read it.

– Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 9, No. 3, May/June 1987
         (very slightly revised).

Editorial Comment:   As soon as I’m able, I’ll be posting the three reviews of Woolrich novels that Mike Nevins did for 1001 Midnights, one a day, perhaps, beginning tomorrow. The three: The Bride Wore Black, The Black Curtain, and The Black Angel.