Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Chocolate Cobweb

The Chocolate Cobweb by Charlotte Armstrong

Synopsis: When art student Amanda Garth found out that she might have been switched at birth with the son of the famous artist Tobias Garrison, she turned the bizarre anecdote into an off-beat introduction to this past master of her calling. Once she met Garrison and his handsome son, Thone, she knew she didn't want their acquaintanceship to end. And then Thone's stepmother, plump, motherly Ione, accidentally knocked over a thermos of hot chocolate and quickly as that Amanda was caught in a perilous web of jealousy, suspicion and murder. For only the slim possibility that Amanda was Tobias' child stood between Thone and sudden, violent death.

My take: I am not a big fan of the inverted mystery story. This book is touted on the cover as "a novel of suspense." I can hardly swallow that when the reader knows all along "who" and the how for at least one murder. The only real question is will s/he get away with it again? I've long heard praise for Charlotte Armstrong in mystery circles...supposedly Anthony Boucher called her "one of the few authentic spellcasting witches of modern times." If true, then I'm afraid her magic just doesn't work on me. The writing is decent...nothing extraordinary and I certainly didn't feel any of that magical suspense at work. There were bursts of delightful description...but they were few and far between. The dialogue is often stilted and downright strange (particularly between Amanda and Thone).

Perhaps this just isn't one of her best. I might give her another try if one of her books comes my way again. But I can't say that I'm going to go out of my way to find any. Two stars out five.

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