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Laura

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,302 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
Laura Hunt was the ideal modern woman: beautiful, elegant, highly ambitious, and utterly mysterious. No man could resist her charms—not even the hardboiled NYPD detective sent to find out who turned her into a faceless corpse. As this tough cop probes the mystery of Laura’s death, he becomes obsessed with her strange power. Soon he realizes he’s been seduced by a dead ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published 1942)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 29, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
”He came toward me and I shrank deeper into the corner. This was strange. I had never felt anything but respect and tenderness for this brilliant, unhappy friend. And I made myself think of Waldo dutifully; I thought of the years we had known each other and of his kindness. I felt sick within myself, ashamed of hysteria and weak shrinking. I made myself stand firm; I did not pull away; I accepted the embrace as women accept the caresses of men they dare not hurt. I did not yield, I submitted. I ...more
James Thane
Mar 21, 2016 James Thane rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This classic crime novel was first published in 1942, and in 1944, Otto Preminger made from it the equally classic film starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews and featuring a haunting title song composed by David Raskin. Only after the film's release did Johnny Mercer write the lyrics to the song, which quickly became a jazz standard.

It's a very atmospheric novel, set in New York City, that practically reads in black and white. At the center is Laura Hunt, a "modern" young woman, at least by the
...more
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

I've loved the movie adaptation of this book for years, and was happy to find the book on which it was based. Often, the chasm between book and silver screen will leave the fan firmly in one camp or the other. Some books, like The Ghost and Mrs Muir, suffer in comparison to their movie counterpart. Other books, like the Somerset Maugham's incredible novel, The Painted Veil, are actually enhanced by their movie twin.

For Vera Caspary's Laura, I would honestly call th
...more
Alex
Oct 05, 2015 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, noir
Vera Caspary is playing a dangerous game. She's paying lengthy homage to Wilkie Collins' Woman in White, with its shifting stable of unreliable narrators. But she starts with Waldo Lydecker, who is a pretentious boob, and that means your guide for the first 40% or so of the book is annoying.

I thoroughly disliked the book all through this section, because I thought this was the book; I didn't catch the signs that Caspary was in on the joke. When Lydecker says things like "I have been known to sh
...more
Dorcas
Apr 21, 2015 Dorcas rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Pleasant who-dunnit about a NYPD detective who, on probing the murder of a young woman, falls in love with her. And then one night while sitting in her old apartment musing the case, a woman in rain soaked clothes enters. .. is Laura really dead, after all? Who wants her dead and will he/she strike again?

So this was good, I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed Vera Caspary's book "Bedelia" much more. "Bedelia" was highly atmospheric and you experienced the story at the same time as the characters, whereas
...more
TJ
Nov 30, 2010 TJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, clean
A very interesting book! I was talked into reading "Laura" by a friend who is an old movie buff and found an original 1942 version. It was like traveling back in time to solve a murder! The writing, descriptions, observations and opinions all reeked '40s style. Each point of view held its own voice so well one feels they know the characters personally right down to their idiosyncrasies. The murder mystery itself has some really great twists and turns that, while one might guess the culprit, make ...more
Jenny McPhee
Feb 10, 2013 Jenny McPhee rated it it was amazing
THE GRAND ADVENTURE OF VERA CASPARY (My February column at Bookslut)

In Vera Caspary's absorbing autobiography The Secrets of Grown-Ups (1979) recounting her life as a writer, she avows, "This has been the century of The Woman and I know myself fortunate to have been part of the revolution. In another generation, perhaps the next, equality will be taken for granted. Those who come after us may find it easier to assert independence, but will miss the grand adventure of having been born a woman in
...more
Morgan Wiley
Mar 25, 2014 Morgan Wiley rated it it was amazing
I drank in every word of this book. I saw the movie first. And watched it over and over and over due to an uncontrollable crush on Dana Andrews. I just happened to catch in the opening credits the hundredth time I watched it that it was based on this novel by Vera Caspary. I immediately bought it because, as we all know, books are always better than the films.

This did not disappoint. I enjoyed the book so much that I've attempted to force it upon everyone I know that likes to read. (I used to t
...more
Jennifer Lafferty
Oct 28, 2014 Jennifer Lafferty rated it it was amazing
"Laura" is one of the best examples of the classic noir mystery novel. The story itself and the writing are equally captivating. The characters are well fleshed out. "Laura's" plotline is colorful as well as complex, but not too difficult to follow. The big screen adaptation of "Laura" is much better known than the book. I saw the film before I read the book but even though I knew the outcome, I greatly enjoyed the novel. It is just as glamorous and entertaining as the iconic film. This is a ...more
Antonius Block
We’ve all seen the film, but Caspary isn’t a name that gets mentioned much. Recently reissued by The Feminist Press, Laura is written in a style that Caspary called “the Wilkie Collins method,” or that one could call the “Rashomon method,” in which multiple narrators, who are also characters in the drama, tell fragments of the story from their own perspectives. Waldo Lydecker opens the novel with an abundance of witty, stinging prose, much as he narrates the opening of the film and soon after re ...more
Diane
Jun 28, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, classic mystery novel. Of course, the movie (Laura - 1944 - Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson) is better known. A lot of people don't realize that it's based on this book by Vera Caspary. There are some changes between the book and the movie - Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) loses a lot of weight and some inches in height, and the aunt's character is changed 180 degrees. In the book, she's an empty-headed twit. In the movie, she's anything but. ...more
Jeanne
Jun 04, 2008 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeanne by: Ben Terrall
Laura is an amazing book. I had read Bedelia first--the main character is somewhat like being stuck in a closet with someone with too much lilac perfume. The character Laura is very much the antithesis of Bedelia.

for the time period, the character is quite unconvetional--the working woman, who, by being independent of men, puts herself in danger within society in an intrinsic way. She's not only in danger physically as the motives for murder are unwound, but also reputation-wise, which is also a
...more
Corey
Oct 25, 2014 Corey rated it really liked it
Here's one good reason why the movie, Laura, is so great. The novel is so great.
Dana Jennings
A bit about the author, who is a fascinating person, excerpted from the afterward - Born in 1899, she got her start as an ad-agency stenographer. The year American women got the right to vote, Caspary began writing ads. Caspary's nineteen books, including the Edgar awarding winning autobiography, The Secrets of Grown-Ups, sold well and widely. Twenty-four movies were made from Caspary's scripts, screen stories, and novels. The movies included: Working Girls, 1093; Letter to Three Wives, 1949, ...more
Brendan
Another classic bit of noir fiction read for my mystery book club in December. Laura follows the mysterious murder mystery of the eponymous girl, found with her head blown off in her apartment one Friday night. We see the story from several perspectives, told in reports, journals, police interviews, and more. The men in Laura’s life are particularly interesting, with the fawning fat cultural critic and novelist Waldo Lydecker snuggling up to the police detective and Laura’s meek dandy fiance ...more
Tony
Sep 09, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it
LAURA. (1943). Vera Caspary. ****.
I’ve seen the movie at least twice, but never read the book. Frankly, I had never seen it on any of the shelves of the used book stores I frequented. The novel is included in a new issue from The Library of America, however, titled Women Crime Writers. The book and the film differ from each other somewhat, but that’s to be expected. If I had to make a choice, I’d say that the film was better than the book. Laura, the heroine, is ultimately wooed by three differe
...more
Dorothyanne Brown
Jan 23, 2012 Dorothyanne Brown rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading this fabulous book by Vera Caspary in a delightful reprint by Feminist Press. I quite like the old time pulp detective stories with the hard-boiled detectives, the dames, the guns. They feel like comic books.
This is not one of these. Though classified as pulp. this is a wonderful character study of a detective story. The plot is absorbing, the mystery is enchanting and I was kept guessing, but the real genius here is in Caspary's character development. Each character is giv
...more
Robin
May 05, 2009 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give 4 (and 1/2) stars for the book, perhaps because I read it after seeing the 1944 movie of the same name, starring Gene Tierney. When you've seen the movie first, the book usually suffers by comparison. In this case, however, the book stands on its own quite well. It is slightly different from the movie, but reading it, you find out more about the plot, the characters, and the motives behind it all. And, it's a book you would want to reread.

To the movie, of course, I give 5 stars. Hollywood
...more
Betsy
Sep 19, 2015 Betsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From page 1, I felt like this was a movie. Since this is the first book I have read under the genre of "noir", I am not sure if this is typical. I have seen many of this type of movie. The characters were well described and I could see them in my head. I enjoyed the plot. A great introduction for me into "noir" books. Looking forward to read more. 4 stars
Andrea Orlick
Aug 25, 2012 Andrea Orlick rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
Some might be more familiar with the Otto Preminger film noir by the same name. This is one of the few instances where the film outshines the book, but only because I adore Gene Tierney and much prefer the ending re-written for the film.

The novel, in its own right is a taught, exceptionaly, well-written, psycho-thriller. Dare I say, literary-pulp.
Ben Loory
Oct 05, 2012 Ben Loory rated it really liked it
His face had the watchfulness that comes after generations to a conquered people. The Avenger, when he comes, will wear that proud, guarded look.
Nancy
Aug 24, 2012 Nancy added it
This is one of my top-ten, all-time favorite mysteries, as well as absolutely in my top ten of movies.
One way of looking at it is to say that it's a woman's fantasy: what could be more ideal than having someone first hear about you from a universal chorus of friends, coworkers, and even your maid, all telling him how wonderful and smart and kind and thoughtful you are? and to hear about all the men who've been in love with you? and see your beautiful sophisticated NYC apartment? So that he's in
...more
Michelle Powers
Aug 06, 2008 Michelle Powers rated it it was ok
When the novel opens Laura Hunt has been murdered. Mark McPherson is the Detective investigating the crime. Through him we meet the people in Laura’s life, most importantly her friend and mentor Waldo Lydecker, and her fiancé Shelby Carpenter. Laura is the ideal modern women, of the 1940s. She is beautiful, charming, and kind. She is a career woman but she is not cold. As the Detective delves deeper into Laura’s life, he falls in love with her.

The book is divided into sections with different pe
...more
Jon Frum
Feb 10, 2015 Jon Frum rated it liked it
I gave this book a slightly generous three stars. The author uses multiple narrators, a device that I did not find appealing. It feels much more like a gimmick than a method of plot and character exposition. My greatest problem is with the character of Laura herself. I understood Waldo Lydecker, the patron, and MacPherson the detective, but I never really got a sense of Laura Hunt as a person. Hard charging professional woman, or overly generous softie? And as a successful, attractive woman in a ...more
Jim
Nov 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
One of those treats one is handed when someone recommends a book that you know you have read before, you know you saw the film, but have no recollection of what is was about. A police detective is called in on a murder of a famous beautiful woman, one evening upon entering her apartment she was shot to death with a shotgun. As he investigates and speaks with those who knew her better and as he views her portrait hanging in her apartment he finds himself loving a woman he is now investigating. As ...more
Philip
Jan 23, 2011 Philip rated it really liked it
Those only familiar with LAURA via the classic 1944 film adapted from it are in for a couple of surprises when they read the original Vera Caspary novel, one of the being that the novel is actually narrated by four characters! Although it gets off to a slow start, by 50 or 60 pages in the pace picked up and I've been turning pages ever since (and this is at least the third time I've read it). Another difference is that the character of Waldo Lydecker differs physically from his on-screen counter ...more
Donna
Aug 07, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
An atmospheric, suspenseful novel of of a modern (1940) woman who works in advertising to earn her own living and at almost thirty is not married. She does have a fiance and an older male friend who appear to love her.Then she winds up dead in her own apartment, her face blown away by a shotgun blast. Enter Detective McPherson who apparently also falls in love with Laura from examining her apartment and obsessing on her portrait. After that things really begin to happen.

Multiple narrators in the
...more
Michael
Jan 15, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This is the first novel included in the Library of America's anthology of women crime writers, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Caspary's writing is clever and confident, and boasts a wonderfully droll sense of humor. I knew nothing about this book going in, nor saw the movie adapted from it, so the big twist about 1/3 of the way in--(view spoiler)--really did surprise me. Like most hard-boiled fiction, the pleasure isn't in the plot details but in the attitude, and t ...more
LVLMLeah
I've been on the old classic movie kick, reading their book counterparts.

I haven't seen this movie since maybe the 70's. I remember really liking it.

The book, not so much. I just found it way too melodramatic, the characters a bit over the top, and not that suspenseful.

Also, while I know this was written in the 40's and I do excuse certain attitudes and ways of thinking that were, shall I say, less enlightened than what is current, in this case I was rather bothered by the blatant misogyny. W
...more
Dena
Feb 17, 2014 Dena rated it really liked it
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“In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention.” 6 likes
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