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The Black Angel

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  249 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews

A panic-stricken young wife races against time to prove that her convicted husband did not murder his mistress. Writing in first person from her viewpoint, Woolrich makes us feel her love and anguish and desperation, as she becomes an avenging angel to rescue her husband from execution.

Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1943)
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May 07, 2008 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Woolrich/noir fans
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Another Cornell Woolrich novel where a woman has to clear her husband from a crime he didn't commit. Sound familiar? It should. "Phantom Lady" was the same book. But it's okay, it's well written and a swell time waster. Just don't expect anything different from Woolrich here.
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Sep 19, 2009 Gladeana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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Apr 16, 2010 Stas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The narrator was getting on my nerves. Perhaps, it is a measure of some slight progress I have been making lately, however haltingly, in breaking out of the obsessional cocoon of my own making, in which I have been sleeping, like a waking dead, lately, finding kinship and consonance with/in these books.
It was too easy to guess who the killer is going to turn out to be. So, I made sure, by skipping to the very end. I will still try another Woolrich, but so far - too melodramatic.
Dan Schwent
Alberta Murray is convinced her husband is having an affair. Imagine her shock when her husband is arrested for his mistress's murder! Alberta happened upon the crime scene before the police and the only clue is a matchbook with the letter M embossed on the cover. She pilfers the victim's address book and starts going down the M's one by one. Can she find the killer before her husband is executed?

My problems with this book started with the premise. If a woman found out her husband was cheating o
May 10, 2010 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
An unbelievable plot is okay in a good mystery. However, an unbelievable plot paired with a completely unbelievable main character is unforgivable.
Tim Schneider
Feb 09, 2011 Tim Schneider rated it liked it
I felt like this was a fairly weak effort from Woolrich. I've taken to giving him a pass on the absurdity of his plots. This one is more than a tad difficult simply from the motivation of the protagonist. Keeping in mind that this was the early 40s, I'm still not sure I buy it.

Again we have heavy coincidence and far-fetched plotting, a Woolrich hallmark. And again the episodic chapter nature of the writing. Generally that is more than made up for in the actual writing and the palpable suspense
Jun 17, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, thriller
Viso d'angelo

E' così che Kirk apostrofa amorevolmente la mogliettina Alberta nell'intimità, viso d'angelo. Quando Kirk viene ingiustamente accusato dell'omicidio della sua amante, Mia, Alberta gli perdona anche il tradimento e fa di tutto per scoprire il vero assassino.
Incurante degli ambienti in cui deve intrufolarsi e dei compromessi a cui deve scendere, Alberta segue una lista di quattro nomi, quattro uomini candidati al ruolo di assassino.

Bellissimo noir d'epoca, Angelo nero è un romanzo go
Jul 15, 2012 kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the evocation of another era--could even imagine the dialogue being spoken with the crisp elocution of the movie stars from that time period.
Oct 25, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime_fiction, noir
A solid, old school noir mystery. Excellent writing, although the dialgue is a bit stilted for the modern ear--but no worse than watching an old b@w movie. The first-person female narrator presents in interesting study for feminist readers/writers.
Jul 04, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir-pulp
This is the fourth in the author's so-called "Black Series". Told in first person by Angel Face **her husband's nickname for her**, who is a naive twenty-three year old playing amateur detective, trying to save her husband from the electric chair. She grows up fast, digging around in New York's darkside. Female noir, this go around and Woolrich who they called the "master of psychological suspense", makes me want me to find more of his novels and other noir from the 40's.
Feb 15, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

What a great piece of lady-centered noir! (in which the lady is the protagonist, not just the femme fatale.)
Wow--this is perfection. I have been hunting Cornell Woolrich like the dodo bird and this was the first thing I was able to get my hands on. I am not disappointed--a noir women's adventure--amazing. The main character, Alberta French, is brave, naive, quick to learn, and an all around good egg--but she still gets trapped in the snare that is noir. Beautifully written, exciting and tense and unpredictable. I cannot wait to read more of Woolrich if this is any indication of what I can expect.
While her husband is on death-row for murder, a determined wife tries to prove his innocence by ferreting out the real killer. Each chapter, she insinuates herself into the life of another suspect. Each tense step in her investigation could be a separate story; a noir portmanteau.

There is a HUGE plot hole, but I loved the wife's resourcefulness and the overall atmosphere of the story so much that it remains a solid 4 stars.
Nathanael Smith
Aug 10, 2013 Nathanael Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my 3rd Cornell Woolrich book to read, and I think I have to say it's been my favorite of his that I have read so far. It's all about a girl who's husband is accused of murdering his mistress and of course doesn't believe he was the guilty party so goes on a venture to discover the real murderer. At first I was a little unsure as to how much I would enjoy it, for one thing the format was told in a different way than I'm used to for a mystery, and on top of that it was all told through th ...more
Aug 13, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
I had a hard time getting into this one. Maybe the premise too unbelievable or the main character wasn't as dark as a I like. A decent read though.
M.E. E. May
This is the first novel I've read by Woolrich and I enjoyed it, but like all fiction written in the 1940's and 1950's, it isn't the same fast-paced novel I'm used to reading. I had to keep that in mind as I did struggle from time-to-time and skipped over some rundant portions. I'm sure in 1943 it was a great read for mystery readers. We must keep in mind that investigative forensics at that time consisted of fingerprints and blood type for the most part and read this like a historical novel. At ...more
Tom Leland
Oct 19, 2013 Tom Leland rated it liked it
I think this was my 2nd crime novel from that period...might be my last. Just don't think it was THAT easy to continually come in contact with nefarious people. Supposedly more film noir movies adapted from Woolrich's books than of any other writer...but I was only barely caught up in it here and there, mostly just sort of went along with a sort of abstract interest. I can see why such writers (Gardner, Hammett, etc.) were popular...
Holger Haase
Nov 04, 2013 Holger Haase rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first two chapters could easily be called "Stand By Your Man".

A cheated wife stands loyally by her husband who is accused of murdering his lover and faces the electric chair. All she can focus on is getting back with him again and proving his innocence.

As ridiculously door mattish as this may sound, these over-the-top declarations of eternal love for someone who probably didn't deserve much better work actually quite well as she is soon being confronted with a range of situations in search o
Apr 16, 2014 Pamela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am hoping that this isn't one of Woolrich's better books. It wasn't bad, but neither was it very good. Read more like outtakes from other books than a work on its own.
Carla Remy
Blackness within darkness, and sequences within sequences, hypnotically Woolrichean. Stunning and amazing, despite a big logic flaw towards the end (why would Alberta investigate the 4th "M" from the victim's address book, once she knew who the monogramed matches belonged to? Makes no sense). But other than that, cool weird interestingness and strangely moving depth. Did I mention the narrative is 1st person from a female's perspective? Awesome. As far as I can tell, this is extremely unusual fo ...more
BLACK ANGEL. (1943). Cornell Woolrich. ***.
In order to enjoy Woolrich’s novels, you have to send yourself back in time to the 1930s and 1940s when the conventions he used in them were more real than they are now. If you can do that, you will have surmounted a big hurdle and begin to appreciate his place in the history of mystery writing. He is known as the ‘Father of Noir,’ which is likely true when you get over his many histrionics. Anyway…this novel explores the plight of a young wife who just

Description: A novel as hypnotic as it is suspenseful, its atmosphere haunting, its shadows long, this intimate thriller by past master of noir fiction Cornell Woolrich delivers its unfailing angel from her waking nightmare into a chillingly impossible dream.

From the 1930s until his death in 1968, Cornell Woolrich riveted the reading public with his pulp noir. Classic films like Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window earned Woolrich the epithet "the twentieth cent
Apparently, this book is typical of the Woolrich style -- though I cannot confirm this at it is my first exposure to his writing. I've seen "Rear Window" numerous times, however, and another of his works was the basis for that film. This book is narrated by a young and apparently beautiful angelic wife of a cheating husband. When she discovers her husband's bags packed for a getaway from married life, the wife decides to confront the mistress while her spouse is at work. She discovers the other ...more
Feb 26, 2016 4cats rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Great crime noir novel, a man finds himself facing the electric chair for a crime he claims he didn't commit, his wife searches for the killer. Cornell Woolrich is a master of noir fiction, he wrote Rear Window and The Bride Wore Black, and many, many more of his stories were filmed. Great stuff.
Bobby Underwood
Apr 17, 2016 Bobby Underwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would be easy to make the case that of the ten greatest writers of the twentieth century, at least three of them came from the pulps: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Cornell Woolrich. And of those three, it is just as easy to make the case that Woolrich was the finest among that daunting trio. Yes, Hammett was Hemingway before Hemingway was Hemingway, but he could not sustain it, so his output is meager. Chandler’s influence on the evolution of the detective in fiction, and the qualit ...more
Hari Brandl
I like Cornell Woolrich as a rule, but I got lost in the middle of this on. Won't stop me from reading more of things he wrote, though.
Cecily Kyle
Sep 16, 2016 Cecily Kyle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wobble
Just not my thing I guess!

I am pretty confident that if I wasn't reading this book to fulfil a challenge I am participating in, it would have been a DNF. However, I went along just to finish it and my mind didn't change...
Maybe because it was written in the 1940's but it felt so much like I could picture it as a black and white movie, the way she described things were almost theatrical. Nevermind the fact that she does everything in her power to try to exonerate her cheating husband... like co
Michael Tarpinian
Jun 02, 2016 Michael Tarpinian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never heard of either of the book or author before. I was pleasantly surprised. Very good read. Like the best of film noir in written form. I was also surprised to find out how old the book is.
Jun 30, 2016 Murray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought and read this book for two reasons. One is that I had seen a couple of film noirs I thoroughly enjoyed based on Woolrich's books, so I was curious about his work. The second is that I realized I haven't been reading as much 'pulp fiction' as I should.

"The Black Angel" was written in 1943 and is filled with characters and places very reflective of the era. It is, in simplest form, about a woman whose husband is sentenced to death for murdering someone, and her efforts to prove his innoce
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Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won ...more
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“It's hard to say goodbye for good at any time or any place. It's harder still to say it through a meshed wire. It crisscrossed his face into little diagonals, gave me only little broken-up molecules of it at a time. It stenciled a cold, rigid frame around every kiss.” 11 likes
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