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Phantom Lady

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Phantom lady, I was with you for six hours last night, but I can't remember what you look like, or what you wore -- except for that large orange hat. We sat shoulder to shoulder at a little bar in the east Fifties. We ate dinner together, saw a Broadway show together, shared a cab together.

The bartender, the waiter, the usher, the cab driver -- none of them remembers you.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by iBooks (first published 1942)
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(showing 1-30 of 722)
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Well-written, fast-paced mystery about a man falsely accused of killing his wife. Sentenced to be executed, he gets help from a police detective (who thinks he's innocent) to find his only alibi that'll save his life. And that is the "phantom lady" he met at a bar at the time his wife was murdered. That's easier said than done, however, and requires the additional assistance of a friend and a would-be girlfriend to search for this mystery woman. Many obstacles are encountered, as the day of his ...more
Lee Foust
Reading this novel made me think of a thing: what if novelists re-wrote other people's novels the way that directors re-make other auteurs' films?

If one did such things, Phantom Lady would be the first novel that I would re-write. The events of the story itself are solid, creepy, interesting. So many passages are beautifully written--these I would leave intact. I loved the typical wacky offbeat noir characters, such as the reefer-mad paranoid/homicidal drummer, the ultra-temperamental Argentine
Randolph Carter
Not as good as some of Cornell Woolrich's other novels but still well above the herd. Typically outrageous plot that we actually don't care much about as long as it carries the suspense. Woolrich supplies the usual twist and doesn't telegraph it too early. Full of metaphor and simile like all good noir books are (that's one of the reasons we like them).

A good read.
Nick Duretta
Nifty little puzzle mystery from the 40s that fairly drips with noir-pulp prose. The puzzle, when it is finally solved at (literally) the last minute, is blatantly ludicrous, and thus not entirely satisfying from a logic perspective, but fun nonetheless.
This was my first Woolrich read, so I don't know if this is one of his best or average works. But, with noir more or less meaning, black, dark or gloomy...this one definitely fits in the noir genre. With an anxiety level, and the feeling of being in the dark or in a shadow, even when you know it's midday, really gives the reader that gloomy feeling. Great noir prose and the characters of despair, no wonder he can be mentioned in the same breath as - Cain, Chandler, Goodis, Thompson and others. 4 ...more
This book is preposterous. How many people have to die for Henderson to be saved? Too many! The Phantom Lady is one of those books where you realize the solution far too early on (with one exception) and watch ridiculous things happen and ridiculous conclusions be made. But each incident with Lombard interviewing the various characters involved in Henderson's alibi makes it worth the read. As you're reading, you'll think of ten different ways it could have been written better. But as I said, a g ...more
Carla Remy
My copy of this is in an old book I found called The Best of William Irish - this was a pen name he had in the 40s, maybe because he produced so much (like Richard Bachman?). Phantom Lady was pretty good. Amazing suspense, of course, with a strong plot twist at the end. I love Woolrich like no other, but actually I often find him boring about half the time. Only, when he is good - isolated lines even - he is phenomenally astounding. They call him the father of noir, and I can see this, but it's ...more
Shaun Steven Struble
Overly verbose, convoluted and silly. The book contains two mysteries: Who is the real murderer? And where is the woman who can verify the falsely accused's alibi? The author chooses to focus on the latter mystery for the whole story, until the very end when they abruptly switch to answer the former. Then after an incredibly long denouement, there is a throwaway answer to the question about the titular woman.

Most ridiculous scene: A character getting so high on marijuana that he goes on a murde
Mar 15, 2008 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: noir fans, crime suspense stories
Shelves: pulp-fiction
The kind of suspenser Cornell Woolrich excelled at, a woman's race against the electric chair to clear her boss' name for a murder he didn't commit. Many of his books used the format of the black widow drawing up a list of men she has to confront, just like in "The Bride Wore Black" and "Rendezvous In Black".

Woolrich had excellent touch of suspense in his novels (he wrote "Rear Window" among others). If you can catch the movie starring Ella Raines on TCM don't miss it!
"Φάντομ Λέιντυ", εκδόσεις Μέδουσα.

Δεύτερη επαφή με το έργο του Κόρνελ Γούλριτς, μετά το κλασικό Η νύφη φορούσε μαύρα που διάβασα πέρυσι τον Ιούλιο. Μου φάνηκε το ίδιο ενδιαφέρον και ευκολοδιάβαστο, αν και πάλι οι χαρακτήρες είχαν προβλήματα και κάποια σημεία της πλοκής μου φάνηκαν μη ρεαλιστικά. Όπως και να'χει απόλαυσα μια αγωνιώδη νουάρ ιστορία.

Έχουμε τον Σκοτ Χέντερσον, ο οποίος πρόκειται να εκτελεστεί για τον φόνο της γυναίκας του. Ο Χέντερσον δεν σκότωσε την γυναίκα του, μιας και την ώρα τ
A guy is framed for murder and sentenced to death in NY State (1942). The plot is easy to follow and interesting, set against a deadline - the execution date. Believable almost throughout. Big plot twist at the end. Some lingo feels corny but the spiraling plotline pulls you in and the characters are credible; detective Burgess and the barman for example.
Although there are some brilliant passages and chapters in Phantom Lady, I found it rather tedious, overall. Unless you are a die-hard Woolrich fan, skip it. But by all means, DO NOT miss Robert Siodmak's classic film noir based on this book.

Woolrich was a brilliant writer, but this book is structurally over-wrought and the plot strains credulity past the breaking point.
Jan 16, 2010 Tom rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
not quite as much carnage as 'rendezvous in black,' still my fave of the 2 woolrich books i've read so far, mainly for the sheer outlandishness & fantastic nature of its bloodshed.

despite some obvious cinematic noir conventions (which, admittedly, he helped invent) woolrich's plots are generally brilliant (despite a few necessary suspensions of disbelief)... but his characters are stock figures for the most part, lacking the stylish sheen of chandler, the matter-of-factness of hammett, or t
Brian Koppin
Good book by a great author, but an even greater film noir. The scene with Elisha cook Jr. in the dive bar is one of my favorite scenes ever
phantom lady is a fun little romp with excellent pacing. woolrich loves enhancing the harrow of a piece by marrying it to a schedule: this one counts down toward an execution: will the phantom lady be found in time to clear henderson's name before he makes it to the chair? and who the hell is she anyway? nobody seems to remember her, which is surprising considering she had a giant orange pumpkin hat on. a bit dated yes, but if you like william irish woolrich books, you won't be disappointed.
Procyon Lotor
de paura III anche qui classe. Stagionata classe.
A man accused of murdering his wife after a heated fight needs the testimony of a woman he spent the evening with on a whim in order to be acquitted. She's nowhere to be found. I really love his sentences, his descriptions. Too bad mysteries are never any good. Irish should have applied his skills to a different genre.
Noir dei primi anni Quaranta, di gran classe. Atmosfere da film in bianco e nero, se non per un tocco di arancione che attraversa tutto il libro sotto forma di un cappello.
Una tensione altissima, una storia avvincente scandita dal conto alla rovescia di un condannato a morte.
Hirosasazaki Sasazaki
Classic suspense. I felt this novel ignored the literature rule that one's point of view must be fixed. But it might be only Japanese literature rule. Anyway, I thought it's too classic that I was excited that much. But good to read while on the airplane.
Tim Schneider
Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind, but I found this one to be a bit of a chore. Standard Woolrich far-fetched plot and pacing. The plot was fairly retread from previous Woolrich work. The ride just wasn't enough to make it that much fun.

Jan 08, 2014 Jimmy added it
wait what? that's CRAZY
Nov 27, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended book as noted in Chapter 9 of Berkley's 1983 paperback edition of Danse Macabre.
I actually read the 2012 Centipede Press edition. Goodreads should allow searching by ISBN so that actual editions can be rated &/or reviews. A SERIOUS short-coming for active members!
The most suspenseful book I can remember ever reading. I'm a big fan of film noir as well, but I thought the Hollywood movie based on this book sucked.
Al Stoess
Nov 20, 2012 Al Stoess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Good. Very detailed. Excellent explanation at the end of all the accidents and murders.
Apr 15, 2010 Stas marked it as to-read
same setup as Balck Angel, but I hear it is better.
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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
More about Cornell Woolrich...
The Bride Wore Black Rendezvous in Black Rear Window - Story Collection I Married a Dead Man Night Has a Thousand Eyes

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