HELEN McCLOY – Through a Glass, Darkly. Basil Willing #8. Random House, hardcover, 1950. Dell #519, paperback, mapback edition, [1951]. Dell, paperback, date?

   This is  the eighth novel featuring psychiatrist-detective Dr. Basil Willing, recently returned from Japan after completing his military service. Willing is alerted by his soon-to-be fiancée and wife Gisela von Hohenems to the strange happenings surrounding Faustina Crayle at Brereton, a school for girls where they are both teachers — Gisela in German and Faustina in Art.

   It would appear that Faustina has been seen bilocating more than once. When she is finally released from her teaching contract, Willing decides to investigate these “supernatural” appearances which he is convinced have. their roots in reality.

   He soon learns that Faustina had been discharged from her first teaching position for the same reason. Further probing suggests that it  is  not just Faustina’s reputation that someone is out to destroy, and there are two deaths  before a final confrontation.

   This is probably the best use of the Doppelganger theme since Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Image in the Mirror. The title taken from Cor1nthians is very cleverly used here, but its significance does not become clear until the denouement.

   The novel is an expansion of Miss McCloy’s 1948 short story of the same name which appeared in the September issue of EQMM.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 3, Number 3 (May-June 1980).