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Before the Fact

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  255 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Lina McLaidlaw waits until she is 30 before accepting a marriage proposal from the feckless and irresponsible Johnnie Aysgarth. As head of a fine household and guardian of both the morals and finances of the man she chose to marry, she finds her husband was, and perhaps still is, a killer.
Paperback, Pan Classic Crime
Published November 12th 1999 by Not Avail (first published 1932)
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Jun 29, 2012 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing
"Some women give birth to murderers, some go to bed
with them, and some marry them." First line of a whopper
dark comedy that Christopher Morley tabbed in 1932 as
"a masterpiece of cruelty and wit."

Rich, late 20s-something-virgin Lina succumbs to Johnnie
on the spot and elsewhere. She divines that he's a forger,
thief and an embezzler. Written decades pre-PC, but does it
matter? It'll make you gasp w literary pleasure if there's
an honest bone - any bone, it doesn't matter - in yer body.

"According to
Mar 25, 2014 Laurie rated it liked it
This crime classic is the basis of the Hitchcock masterpiece "Suspicion" and in this case the movie was definitely better than the book.

Lina McLaidlaw a plain spinster approaching 30 recklessly marries the charming Johnny Asygarth even though she suspects he is just marrying her for her money. Johnny's aristocratic family has fallen on bad times due to the spendthrift nature of his father and all the boys in his family seem to have taken after the old man. Johnny is dashing, charming and popular
Nov 06, 2012 Dfordoom rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
Francis Iles’ 1932 novel Before the Fact is best known today as the book on which Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie 1941 Suspicion was based. As most fans of the movie are aware, the endings of the novel and the movie differ very significantly, and which you prefer is largely a matter of taste.

Anthony Berkeley Cox (1893-1971) was born in England and wrote detective stories under several names, including Anthony Berkeley, A. Monmouth Platts and Francis Iles.

Before the Fact, like another of his Fra
Nov 18, 2008 Andrea rated it it was ok
This book in one sentence: the story of a sociopath and his wife, who happens to be the stupidest woman in the world.

I read this book because I'd seen Alfred Hitchcock's screen version (the movie's called "Suspicion"). I didn't like the end of the movie, so I thought maybe the book would be better. It wasn't. I actually prefer the movie.
Jul 27, 2015 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lina McLaidlaw was always acknowledged by her family and friends as being extremely clever but unfortunately not very pretty but her blue eyes and her pale cheeks did give her some sort of allure in the beauty stakes.

Johnnie Aysgarth was a man about town who would flirt with any young lady and expect her to immediately fall for him. But when he met Lina his friends told him that he would not make any headway with her, 'She'll be flirting with me before tea-time' was his view of the situation. Ho
Aug 22, 2010 Mmyoung rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

If Before the Fact is remembered other than by enthusiasts of the “alternate” murder mysteries that were relatively popular in England in the 1930s it is as the inspiration of Hitchcock’s Suspicion. .

BTF was published in 1932 and for the reader who knows only the England of Marsh, Allingham and Christie it may come as a shock to find a story which deals so openly, if with a somewhat oblique form of openness, with matters of sexuality. The POV character, Lina, is clearly frigid dur
A study in moral monstrosity. At first it seems pretty clear who is the monster and who is the monstor's victim; Lina's passivity and self-doubt are maddening, but her essential goodness seems clear. But as the story continues, that easy binary--of monster and victim--becomes increasingly troubled. Does she begin good and is her goodness twisted into monstrosity by life with a toxic, sociopathic narcissist? Or is she herself monstrous to the core? And her monstrosity seems awfully similar to ide ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
Is Lina's popular, carefree and handsome new husband really a crook? Well, yes he is. But is he a murderer? And if he is, will he kill again? Will he kill Lina? This is a masterful study of a true sociopath, a man who simply has no sense of remorse or guilt or anything other than his own needs. And it's all told from the point of view of his increasingly suspicious, increasingly scared but devoted wife. This was the basis of Hitchock's 'Suspicion' but the novel is so much more powerful. The tens ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
Emilia Fox, Ben Caplan and Patricia Hodge star in a dramatisation of the novel that Alfred Hitchcock based his film, 'Suspicion' on.

Oct 03, 2015 Tea rated it really liked it
‘Before the Fact’ posits the hypothesis that just as some people are destined to be murderers, others are inevitable ‘murderees’. This is the conclusion reached by the hapless heroine Lina after several years’ marriage to charming parasite Johnny Aysgarth. Johnny’s endless misdemeanours are so blatant that there comes a point when even his smitten wife has to face the reality that her husband is not only a philandering thief, but also a charming grim reaper hastening any friends or relatives to ...more
BOTTOM LINE: Sweet woman with money is glommed onto by a ruthless playboy, who proceeds to try, repeatedly, to murder her for her money. The novel is not at all as genteel and sweet as the Hitchcock film version and was extremely dark and far more complex.

A very creepy psychological study from 1932 of a man who might be a murderer, and the victim, who loves him. The basis for Hitchcock's movie SUSPICION with Joan Fontaine as the clueless little wifey and Cary Grant as the conniving husband. Hit
jody higinbotham

The book Hitchcock based his movie on. The real story that continues years past the movie timeframe and delivers a knockout ending. This is the movie Hitch should have made. Read this and enjoy a true thriller. It comes to life in your imagination.
Vanessa Hatcher
Jan 16, 2011 Vanessa Hatcher rated it it was ok
AGHHHHH! That is what I yelled when I finished the book. Really? Did the author really believe a woman could be so stupid? Maybe. But I have a hard time swallowing the main character's lack of decision making. Read this book for a book club--or rather got the book for that reason, began it because I had nothing else to read when I took Dan to the hospital in Oct. It is called a mystery, but I'm still not sure what the mystery was--maybe how this woman could be so....stupid, I just can't even thi ...more
Aug 13, 2010 Christina rated it it was amazing
one of the best books i have read. this is the book where Hitchcock got his movie "Suspicion" from. as with all books that have been made into movies i could not help but compare the two and Hitchcock did a wonderful job... it's just too bad the acting was horrendous. it's easy to read in the book what Hitchcock put into the movie. the book of course has so much more than the movie does and what was not put into the movie was really good. Before the Fact is one of those books where the main char ...more
Keybo Taheri
Nov 08, 2015 Keybo Taheri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a thoroughly entertaining book. It flowed because it was so well written. While the majority of the novel is a love story, it is a love story with a macabre twist, that makes you egg on for the relationship to end. It is a narration of what makes regular people stay in abusive relationships. It is like a horror movie, because you feel like yelling at the protagonist Lina to run away. I can thoroughly relate because it feels like the type of friendships I have had with people that have t ...more
Angie Fehl
Aug 02, 2015 Angie Fehl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taking it back to the semi-classics this time around! Frances ILes (I'm capitalizing that L just so you can tell the L from the I) was one of the pen names of mystery / crime writer Anthony Berkeley Cox (1893-1971). He also wrote under the names Anthony Berkeley and A. Monmouth Platts (that one a bit of a clunker if you ask me). A World War I veteran of the British Army, he also worked as a journalist for various newspapers of his day. The name Frances ILes was actually inspired by one of Cox's ...more
Sep 05, 2014 Durdles rated it really liked it
A "Golden Age" crime classic. As a Hitchcock fan I have read some of the books that inspired his films, Rebecca and Marnie spring to mind as source material for psychological thrillers and " Suspicion" is based on this book. I found it hard to believe in Cary Grant as a psychopathic murderer but the film's set pieces, especially the fatal glass of milk containing a light bulb to make it glow malevolently remain imprinted. The novel is a study in emotional abuse within marriage in which the victi ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Dec 29, 2014 Jill Hutchinson rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This book is another one of those classics from the golden age of mystery which is found on the all-time "best of" lists. Written in 1932, it has aged well and was used as the inspiration of the film Suspicion by Alfred Hitchcock. But the film and the book have very little in common except for the characters and a few of the scenarios, so if you have seen the film and liked it, you need to read the story in its original form which is vastly different.

A rather plain spinster from a moneyed family
Liz Alexander
Sep 21, 2015 Liz Alexander rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Having watched Hitchcock's Suspicion starring Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant, and after reading many of the reviews here, I was inspired to buy this book.

I loved, loved, loved Franci Iles' Before the Fact. It's quite different from Hitch's movie (with that silly ending, foisted on him by a studio that didn't want Cary Grant portrayed as a villain--whyever not?); I actually prefer the book.

But I see this as a very different story than most other people. To me, this is less "one of the finest studie
Christine Sinclair
Mar 25, 2014 Christine Sinclair rated it really liked it
Lina, Lina, Lina! So many character flaws you can't count them all, and yet I still had a lot of sympathy for her. Who among us wouldn't overlook a few minor moral issues to be with Johnnie Aysgarth? (Especially as played by Cary Grant, of course, in the movie version, Suspicion.) A very good read, with several major differences from Alfred Hitchcock's (and Hollywood's) take on it. Makes me want to watch the movie again to compare them.
Apr 12, 2011 Sloweducation rated it it was amazing
While I understand why some may find fault with Iles's portrayal of Lina, to think her stupid is to miss the point. Her descent into further depths of foolishness or irrationality is the major theme of the novel. Iles is a wonderful stylist, and I would count the book among the best written mysteries I have read. His prose gives the plot momentum and plausibility. It is touched by a peculiarly strong note of melancholy.
Jul 19, 2012 Kristine rated it it was amazing
I'm a massive Hitchcock fan, hence why I picked up this novel, eager to see how it differed from Suspicion and I absolutely loved the book - more so than the film. I certainly didn't expect that would be the case.
I wouldn't recommend reading this if you husband is a rabid gambler and liar, who knows where that could lead ;)
Carey Combe
Apr 25, 2013 Carey Combe rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Laura Wanda
Really loved this. Didn't know whether to be infuriated by her inability to go and tell him to take a hike or understanding. Definitely psychologically convincing.
Brian Keiper
May 13, 2013 Brian Keiper rated it it was amazing
Something of a forgotten masterpiece. A disturbing look at co-dependency and murder--or maybe not...
Aug 28, 2012 Alexander rated it liked it

Darkly compelling.
May 20, 2011 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Anne Scott
This is required reading for my film class, as it later inspired the Hitchcock film Suspicion, which is a great film. I started off really liking this book, as in my opinion Frances Iles is a much better writer than Raymond Chandler, the last mystery writer I read.

The plot is an interesting one: a woman begins to suspect that her gambling-addicted husband is trying to kill her. If you have ever seen the movie, you should know now that this book differs significantly. In the movie, Lina is a some
Dec 17, 2013 Carmelina rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2016 Chazzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It took me a while to get through it. It isn't my cup of tea, but I had to finish it. Short reads got me through.

Francis Illes style is of the psychological thriller rather than the outright who-done-it. There are no police, no outright victim, but there is crime. Tension is the primary mood in this story of two co-dependent people.

Lina is in love with Johnnie. Even though she has been told by those who know that Johnnie is bad news, she marries him. After a few years she realizes how bad an app
Grace Rostoker
Oct 29, 2013 Grace Rostoker rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
On publication in 1932 Before the Fact was described as "one of the finest studies of murder ever written", and I have to agree.

I read this because I like the Alfred Hitchcock movie 'Suspicion' which is based on the book, and was curious about how Hitchcock had adapted the story. I think the book is far superior. Most notably because it is much darker than the movie, and does not have the contrived happy ending the studio insisted on. The main characters have far more depth and complexity, and I
May 24, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
Cleverly written classic crime novel about a charming (aren't they all?) sociopath and the silly wife who loves him.
Quick and enjoyable read. By the end, however, I guarantee you will want to slap Lina. Or worse. A page-turner indeed. Sharp humor reminded me a bit of my beloved Rex Stout in terms of writing style. Excellent characterization.
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Francis Iles is a pseudonym of Anthony Berkeley Cox who also wrote under the pseudonyms Anthony Berkeley and A Monmouth Platts.

Cox was born in Watford and was educated at Sherborne School and University College London.

He served in the Army in World War I and thereafter worked as a journalist, contributing s series of humourous sketches to the magazine 'Punch'. These were later published collective
More about Francis Iles...

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“Suspicion is a tenuous thing, so impalpable that the exact moment of its birth is not easy to determine.” 0 likes
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