BOILEAU-NARCEJAC – She Who Was No More. Pushkin Vertigo, trade paperback, 2015. Translation by Geoffrey Sainsbury. First published by Éditions Denoël (France) in 1952 as Celle qui n’était plus. Reprinted by Rinehart, US, hardcover, 1954. Hutchinson, UK, hardcover, as The Woman Who Was, 1954. Films: Diaboliques (France, 1955; director: Henri-Georges Clouzot); House of Secrets (US, 1993; made for TV); Diabolique (US, 1996).

   The collaboration between French authors Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac is perhaps most famous for producing, among several other works of well-regarded crime fiction, The Living and the Dead (D’entre les Morts, 1954), the basis for the movie Vertigo, considered by many to be the best of Alfred Hitchcock’s many films.

   Unfortunately, of the the ten titles included in Hubin, only three have been published in the US. She Who Was No More is one of them, and it’s good to have it back in print again, after a long wait of over 60 years. The story is both easy and not so easy to describe. A man’s mistress helps a man kill his wife. They do it in such a way as to make it seem to be an accident which happened while both have solid alibis. Yet when the husband goes to “discover” her body, it has vanished. Disappeared.

   Worse, he begins to find notes from her saying that she’s gone away but will be home again soon. More. His brother-in-law in Paris claims that she has stopped by to see him, even after she is supposed to be dead.

   What is difficult to explain is what a feverish nightmare of a novel this is, a pure noir fantasy, if you will. A combination of a guilty conscience with a belief in ghosts floods Ferdnand Ravinel’s very being — and perhaps the reader’s, too. What is also difficult is to write a review without saying more, or even without a hint of saying more.

   So I won’t. I will say that I enjoyed this oe immensely — but more than that, no. But it is frustrating!