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Beast in View

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  453 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
A psychological thriller by a mistress of suspense at the top of her form and 1956 winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

What starts with a crank call from an old school chum sets the lonely, aloof, financially comfortable Miss Helen Clarvoe on a path as predictable only as madness. Lured from her rooms in a second-rate residential Hollywood hotel, she finds herself stranded
Mass Market Paperback, 202 pages
Published 1966 by Bantan Books (first published 1955)
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A gripping and unsettling thriller that's brilliantly written.

Margaret Millar was the wife of Ross MacDonald. What a talented couple! This is considered to be her masterpiece, winning the Edgar Award over another wonderful literary thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley and finding a place in Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books as chosen by H.R.F. Keating amongst other similar lists.

Helen Carvoe receives a crank call, with the help of her semi-retired stockbroker cajoled in to working as a reluctant
Nancy Oakes
Like a 3.75 rounded up. My first, but not last, novel by Margaret Millar, Beast in View is really more of a story of psychological suspense rather than a full-blown crime novel, set in Southern California of the 1950s.

Helen Clarvoe, a young woman now 30, lives alone in a small hotel in Hollywood. Her mother, with whom she only rarely communicates by mail, lives six miles away with her brother Douglas. Helen lived there in a self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world, "behind her wall of m
Mar 20, 2016 Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Millar was a Canadian writer known for her marriage to Ross MacDonald one of the most well respected mystery writers of all time. However don't fall into the trap of thinking she married a prominent mystery writer, adored him, and lived contentedly in his shadow. Margaret did not need to stand in any body's shadow when it came to writing suspense novels. She was a force. Think of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell and you have female mystery writers who wrote in a similar vein and shar ...more
Mar 30, 2010 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the quaint 1950s setting and dated social attitudes mislead you. This is a first-rate psychological suspense mystery. Devastating climax helps to make it MM's masterpiece. Won the Edgar in 1956.
Spoilers ahead.
The book industry seems to have a longstanding sizing code in place for its product; differing products get their own standardized treatment, via formatting or editing, to a genre-specific size. Popular Pocket books and Penguins of the forties and fifties seemed to have pretty set dimensions, and the page count was reliably 120 to 160 pages. Very often when we read a title these days it may come in a different format and the fact that it was squeezed or stretched to fit a now-none
Nov 18, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BEAST IN VIEW. (1955). Margaret Millar. ****.
Margaret Millar was the wife of Ross Macdonald, and a very popular and prolific writer on her own. This novel explores an eerie relationship between a woman with ‘phoneitis’ (you will have to read the book for a definition here) and a host of people from her past. Today we would call Evelyn Merrick a crank caller – a person who persistently calls people on the phone and ultimately threatens them with revealing happenings from their past. It’s not blac
Kim Fay
Feb 02, 2015 Kim Fay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three down, seven to go in my goal to read the first 10 Edgar Award winners for best novel. (It turns out I'm a little out of order because I thought the award started in 1954 but it actually started in 1951 - despite that shift, the first 10 are a balance of men and women, something I hope to explore once I'm done reading them all.) As for "Best in View," while I was reading it I found myself thinking about a lot of today's suspense novels - many rely heavily on shock value. This one, on the ot ...more
Sam Reaves
Apr 08, 2015 Sam Reaves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 1956 Edgar winner by Margaret Millar, wife of Kenneth Millar aka Ross Macdonald. The husband wound up being better remembered; many will argue he was not the better writer. I'm not going to weigh in on that until I read a lot more Margaret Millar, but on the basis of this one I'd say the woman could hold her own at that table.
A lonely, neurotic woman lives estranged from her mother and brother. She is harassed by phone calls from the brother's ex-wife and calls on her deceased father
Jan 23, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a lot of fun! I would suggest reading this one straight through in one sitting.
Mar 16, 2016 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beast In View was a true gem. I've enjoyed a couple of her other books in the past few years, when I've been able to find copies. The Soft Talkers was one of my favourites of last year. Beast in View is another 5-star read. It's such an interesting story. I love how Millar develops her plots. Is it about Helen Clarvoe, who lives alone in her apartment, isolated from the world about her? Is it about Mr. Blackshear, Helen's financial adviser, bored with his work, who she asks to help her find the ...more
Lukasz Pruski
This is a very difficult review for me to write, perhaps the most difficult of the 300+ lame reviews I have produced so far. Margaret Millar's "Beast in View" received the "coveted" Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel of the year in 1956, yet I do not like it at all, and had to work hard to finish reading it. There must be something wrong with me.

Helen Clarvoe, a well-off, young, but lonely woman receives a nasty phone call from one Evelyn Merrick, who predicts that bad things will happen to He
Phillip Thurlby
An absolute masterpiece, they should stick this in some sort of series of masterpieces of crime...

...oh yeah - "Crime Masterworks" - they did it already.

So not surprisingly this was a brilliant work. It was deeply dark in a elegantly sinister way that not so much stabs you in the back but convinces you that you need to stab yourself in the back. The perpetrator leaves no evidence and does nothing criminal but drives their victims to destruction in such a way as to make the evil undeniable.

The ra
This psychological novel must have seemed very new and shocking at the time it was written, but feels quite old hat now. Another book with truly unengaging characters, it was the third winner of the Edgar for Best Novel. It took me 6 weeks to get through this rather short book, as it was a distasteful subject and (once again) not a
classic detective story. I would term it a psychological thriller.
Helen Clarvoe, a wealthy recluse although she is only 30-ish, calls her attorney to report that she
Sep 06, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beast in View is a suspenseful psychological thriller by Margaret Millar. Winner of the 1956 Edgar Award for Best Novel and also named one of the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by the Mystery Writers of America, the novel may be a bit dated in its views of homosexuality and use certain psychological terms but it still packs quite a punch.

At thirty, Helen Clarvoe may be rich but she is lonely. Her only visitors are the staff at the hotel where she lives and her only phone calls come from a st
Mar 21, 2013 lisa_emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After that disappointing Vargas experience, I was very pleased to have read Millar’s book that same day I checked it out of the library. I came to this book, published in 1955, after having read an article about “Gone Girl”, by G. Flynn. It had been out of print for some time, but it seems to be back. It is a psychological thriller written in the likes of Highsmith and Rendell. The ambiance is definitely 1950s LA, which I really enjoyed; and do I dare mention there is something about this book t ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This seems to be my season for reading about fragmented and disintegrating personalities. An isolated, neurotic woman starts receiving nasty phone calls from a mysterious stranger. As more people start to receive these calls, always containing information, true or false, that has a devastating impact on their lives, it turns out that the caller is no stranger at all. How little of a stranger she is becomes clear only as the story reaches its perfectly-pitched climax. Millar's writing is impeccab ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really into Ross Macdonald (pen name for Kenneth Millar), and ever since I read his wife was also a respected writer in her day I've been looking to try her work. However, that's easier said than done as most of Mrs. Millar's work appears to have gone out of print for some reason (despite the fact that this book has made more than a few lists of the best mystery/suspense novels of all time). So, when I ran across a used paperback of "Beast in View" at my bookstore, I immediately bought it.

Feb 06, 2015 Kerrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As others have commented, this has a staggeringly modern feel to it. It also feels as if it has cinematographic qualities. There is an incredible twist in the tail which apparently is a characteristic of most of Margaret Millar's novels.

Since her father's death, Helen Clarvoe has been estranged from her mother and brother who live in increasing poverty in the family home. Helen apparently inherited all her father's money but lives the life of a wealthy recluse although she is only thirty. When H
Robin Friedman
Oct 09, 2015 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Millar's 1955 novel, "Beast in View" is the third of four novels included in a new Library of America anthology, "Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s". The LOA book is part of a two-volume box set with the first book including four novels by women crime writers from the 1940s. Sarah Weinman, an authority on women's suspense fiction selected the contents and edited both volumes.

The "Beast in View", the title of a poem by Muriel Rukeyser, refers in this book not to an a
Sherry Schwabacher
I was twelve when this book was first published. It is so easy to forget how different the world felt to women, gays, African-Americans back then. If you wonder if we are making any social progress, read this. Millar was known for the psychological depth of her books and the plot of Beast in View certainly plays that up. You may find yourself shaking your head, wondering "How can they think that way?" Well, remember, they really did!
Ronald Koltnow
Jan 16, 2016 Ronald Koltnow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Millar's best known novel has a trick ending, as much of her fiction does. However, the true surprise of the novel is Millar's witty exploration of psychological quirks and anomalies among as odd a group of characters as could be found in any one novel. Our main character is an embittered, alienated heiress, who calls upon her courtly investment counselor to investigate menacing phone calls coming from a former friend, whom everyone else thinks is an angel. The woman's odd family and a cheesecak ...more
Oct 18, 2013 Bert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dated, but who gives a ship. This was a thorny, garish little novel with a dark dark heart, and worth it for that astonishing last line alone.
Aaron Martz
May 03, 2014 Aaron Martz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I was reading this I was thinking what a good movie Alfred Hitchcock would have made of it. Turns out it was adapted for his TV show. That is fitting. Millar's writing is concise and very cinematic and her characterizations of the upper class Clarvoe family reminded me of the Glass family from Salinger's stories. The opening chapter is creepy, instantly suspenseful, and the continual shifts in perspective and sudden shocking deaths keep you off balance throughout, but what sticks with you lon ...more
Sep 20, 2014 Darlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
What a delicious little suspense! Helen Clarvoe is a wealthy LA spinster with few friends and a solitary life. She contacts her attorney, widower Paul Blackshear after receiving disturbing phone call from her former sister in law. She has made an enemy. Paul investigates, combing through information until he, and we, arrive at the truth. When he does, and the darkness is revealed we are horrified to knows the truth of the matter. This book will stun you. Written in 1962, author Margaret Millar w ...more
Sep 09, 2015 Roybot rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beast in View, by Margaret Millar, is a somewhat entertaining thriller that suffers a bit from the ravages of age. The central plot, involving a young woman receiving threatening calls from someone she knew when she was younger, has been done many times since this was written, and the eventual outcome is obvious fairly quickly, although there are some attempts by Millar to conceal the nature of the antagonist, most readers won't have any trouble deducing the nature of the conflict fairly quickly ...more
May 27, 2014 Andrew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually trust the Crime Masterworks series but I can honestly say this is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's a complete mess that blunders along in an extremely poorly written and boring fashion to an obvious conclusion. I didn't believe a word of it; found the characters and situation unengaging; and the author's persistence in changing POV throughout the book undermined what little plot there was to be had. In my opinion, if it had been written entirely from the main character's per ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan 16, 2013 Ria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Βρήκα την Ιταλική έκδοση του βιβλίου της Margaret Millar Beast in view τυχαία σε μια μικρή καφετέρια δίπλα από το αεροδρόμιο Μυκόνου. Μέσα στα πολλά βιβλία βρήκα και αυτό και για να πω την αλήθεια αν δεν ήταν για το έντονο κίτρινο εξώφυλλο δεν θα το είχα ξεχωρίσει. Ξεκίνησα να το διαβάζω στο αεροπλάνο και αμέσως με συνεπήρε. Το πρώτο στην ουσία βιβλίο μυστηρίου που διάβασα διότι πιο πριν κακώς σνόμπαρα το είδος. Η Κα. Μίλαρ πλάθει μια όμορφη ιστορία με ανθρώπους που μπορούν κάλλιστα να είναι φίλ ...more
Jul 26, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of psychological thrillers or Ross Macdonald
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Top 100 list
Helen Clarvoe picks up the phone one day and finds a mysterious caller at the other end: someone claiming to be a school friend of hers, whom she had long since stopped thinking about. The friend happens to have an unnerving way of poking at people's deepest insecurities, saying just the right thing to drive them to despair. And she seems to be leaving a trail of devastation in her wake… can she be stopped before too many lives are ruined?

I really liked the writing in this book. Margaret Millar
Colleen Venable
Bought it entirely on a whim after falling in love with the original cover. 75 cents on ebay later and it was MINE! Unfortunately when it arrived from ebay it was a horrible 80's painting instead of a woman starring blandly out a window with a half smirk like she has gas and not some horrible problem/secret. (Well I guess if the gas is bad enough that COULD count, but still, not exactly the thriller I was hoping for.) If I had to give stars for the writin ...more
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Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm) was an American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she was educated there and in Toronto. She moved to the United States after marrying Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald). They resided for decades in the city of Santa Barbara, which was often utilized as a locale in her later novels under the pseudonyms o ...more
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