Saturday, November 21, 2015

"The People Across the Canyon" by Margaret Millar


Continuing on my goal to catch up with the Deal Me In Short Story Challenge, for the Five of Hearts I read "The People Across the Canyon" by Margaret Millar.

The story starts with Marion Borton worrying about neighbors moving across the canyon. She is not happy about giving up her privacy in the secluded area where she and her husband had been the first to build a home. Her husband, Paul, thinks that this is a good thing; maybe the new neighbors will have some children that their eight-year-old daughter Cathy can play with. In the following days, Cathy reports on meeting the new couple at the house and seems to be obsessed with them. They represent all the things that her parents are not, in her eyes.

The end of the story is very haunting and a bit creepier than I usually like. Yet I enjoyed the way that the story is presented and I didn't expect the twists that it takes.

I selected this story from The Couple Next Door: Selected Short Stories by Margaret Millar.  The book was edited by Tom Nolan, author of the biography of Ross Macdonald (the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar, Margaret's husband). He also wrote the lengthy introduction to this book of short stories which includes a good bit about Millar's life and her writing. This book is part of the Lost Classics Series, published by Crippen & Landru.

This story was originally published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, October 1962. It has since been published in several anthologies: A Century of Great Suspense Stories, ed. Jeffery Deaver; Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, ed. Denise Hamilton; and most recently  published in Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, ed. Sarah Weinman.

The story is available here, read by Douglas Greene, publisher of Crippen & Landru.


My list of short stories is hereJay at Bibliophilopolis hosts the challenge.



20 comments:

  1. That's what I like about Millar's work, the twists and the suspense. I'm looking forward to her books being digitized but I've bought quite a few to read for myself.

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    1. Keishon, I only have two more of the novels to read, but I will be looking for more.

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    1. Patti, I look forward to reading more in the book. Two of the pieces are closer to novella length.

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  3. I read this one too and it was creepy.

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    1. Very creepy, Mac n' Janet. Don't know why that surprised me, based on the books I have read.

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  4. Millar certainly can write an awfully creepy story, Tracy. And she did such great psychological studies, too. I'm not surprised you liked this.

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    1. I think I read at least one of her novels when I was younger, that put me off reading her for a long time, because it was too creepy for me. Now I can handle it better.

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  5. I cheer for her creepy stuff too. Thanks for reviewing so much of her stuff that I haven't gotten too or bought yet, Tracy!

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    1. I hope I get to more short stories before the end of the year, Rebecca.

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  6. Tracy, I still got to read Margaret Millar. I haven't come across a single novel of hers, which isn't surprising as she is not very well-known in my neck of the woods.

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    1. It took me a long time to run into one of her novels at the book sale, Prashant. Now that I have sampled her writing I am more willing to go out of the way to find copies.

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  7. I haven't tried her yet - short or long....one day hopefully!

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    1. I do hope you try at least one of her books, Col. Definitely not cozy.

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  8. A great collection - I love the Crippen & Landru series. Thanks Tracy.

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    1. In addition to this one, I have the DeAndrea collection, that I just bought recently. And I have one by Stuart Palmer and one by Craig Rice and those I have had forever without reading any of the stories.

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    1. I will be interested to see if the collection is all like this, Ann, or has some variety. It has four stories and two novellas.

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  10. Don't think I've read any Millar short stories, but I know from her longer works just how clever and creepy she can be. Will look out for this one.

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    1. From what I can tell, Moira, she did not write that many short stories. I liked this one.

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