RICHARD MATHESON – Someone Is Bleeding. Lion #137, paperback original, 1953. Reprinted in Noir – Three Novels of Suspense: Someone Is Bleeding; Fury on Sunday; Ride the Nightmare: Forge, hardcover & trade ppbk, 2005. (Previous limited edition: G & G Books, hc, 1997.)   Film: Fox-Lira, France, 1974, as Les Seins de Glace (Icy Breasts).

RICHARD MATHESON Someone Is Bleeding

   It’s pleasantly perverse and quickly readable, this thing, Richard Matheson’s first novel — a couple hours of passion, mystery and intrigue; no great shakes in the plotting department, but quirky enough that I found myself wishing Hitchcock had turned this into Vertigo instead of the Boileau-Narcejac book, reviewed here not too long ago.

   And there are some interesting similarities: David, a callow young writer, meets cute and vulnerable Peggy, a withdrawn but passionate woman whose past seems to be riddled with blank spots and contradictions. Peggy quickly gets him reacquainted with Jerry, an old college buddy turned successful bent lawyer, and with Jerry’s murderous henchman, his neurotic brother, alcoholic wife and other sundry and colorful characters.

   With a cast like this you can’t go far wrong, but you can go some-wrong. The problem is that David never seems to do very much; he spends the novel reacting or over-reacting to the other characters, easily swayed by whatever version of the truth he hears last, and generally getting in the way of whatever may be going on —

   Which may actually be more realistic in terms of character, but hardly makes for compelling reading. What keeps the pages turning here are the lively characters, a great chase scene that seems to prefigure North by Northwest, and an ending I found really really chilling.

Editorial Comment:   On the primary Mystery*File website is an interview that Ed Gorman did with Richard Matheson back in 2004. Ed introduces the interview with an overview of Richard’s career that’s as long as the interview. It’s worth the trip. (Follow the link.)