CORNELL WOOLRICH – Manhattan Love Song. Gregg Press, hardcover, October 1980. Pegasus Books, paperback, 2006. First published by William Godwin, Inc., hardcover, 1932. Film: Monogram, 1934.

   The first-person narrator, Wade, has been married to Maxine for eight years and suddenly becomes enamored of one Bernice Pascal. He destroys everything, including himself, in his quest to make her his own. Wade is what was once popularly known an a cad as far as his doting wife is concerned, planning to take all their savings and leave her behind for another woman.

   What he is unable to discover is why Bernice is being kept in her sumptuous apartment, and by whom. What is her secret, and why does she suddenly become so frightened and fear for her life? The inevitable murder leaves Wade the perfect patsy.

   Woolrich’s sixth novel contains the element of suspense which was to characterize his later novels, starting in 1940 with The Bride Wore Black. There are also many other Woolrichian hallmarks present in this early work, such as the use of the small apartment atmosphere, the important play of light, and the pervasive background music of the period (“Why Was I Born?” is an example here). And no one — but no one — can evoke the early New York subways like Woolrich.

   This beautiful photographic Gregg reprint of the original novel contains a valuable introduction by Woolrich admirer and authority, Francis M. Nevins, Jr., who is no stranger to readers of The Poisoned Pen.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 4, Number 3 (June 1981).