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I Married a Dead Man
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I Married a Dead Man

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  511 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Pregnant, abandoned by her slimy husband and destitute, Helen Georgesson boards a train going west. In the crowded train car she meets happy newlyweds Patrice Hazzard, also expecting, and Hugh. They are on their way to visit Hugh’s parents, whom Patrice is meeting for the first time. After Patrice hands Helen her wedding band so she can wash her hands in the rest room, the ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1948)
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Jim
Cornell Woolrich is one of the glories of American noir literature. And I Married a Dead Man is one of his best books. Unless you've spent the last half century cowering under your bed, you've heard of such films as The Bride Wore Black, Rear Window, Phantom Lady, The Leopard Man, and Mississippi Mermaid. Not once, not twice, but scores of times, Woolrich's stories have been turned into films.

I Married a Dead Man tells the story of an abandoned young pregnant woman who takes a cross-country tra
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Julie
I picked this up after watching Mrs. Winterbourne, and noticing that it was based on a novel. I enjoyed the period. Really great story for such a short book.
Nina
I enjoyed this book very much as a mystery novel. I was fascinated with the story when I saw the movie "No Man of Her Own" with Barbara Standwyck years ago (not to be confused with a movie of the same name with Clark Gable. I had also viewed a remake called Mrs. Winterbourne with a terribly miscast of Ricky Lake, but other characters were strong. The book reads as a Perry Mason episode, and does not bog itself down with too much verbage. The story is of an abondoned pregnant girl who is given a ...more
Randolph Carter
One of the few books I've ever read twice (actually three times). A title that just makes you have to pick it up. Steeped in paranoia it is one of the best noir novels ever written, full of Woolrich's creepy imagery. The only thing I have never bought is the ending and the only thing that keeps the novel from being perfect. Woolrich in an effort to put yet another layer of paranoia on the existential cake leaves us with a footnote that just doesn't ring true given the characters he has drawn for ...more
Gregg
Talk about a dark tale. A woman is abandoned by her pimp, who has also left her pregnant. On the train back to California, she mixes with a young married couple on their way home to introduce the woman to the family. A train crash occurs. A switched identity and now the woman is living in desperate hope that she'll be able to get away with assuming a new identity so as to keep her child comfortable and well. Only...the pimp comes back! And then things get really interesting.

Found out that this
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MSJ (Sarah)
Fear, paranoia, dread, anxiety, and desperation are dripping thickly off these pages. A great work of psychological suspense. My heart was pounding fast while reading and I was anxious to find out what would happen next as if I was personally involved myself. What I appreciated most was the ambiguous morality. There were no clear cut answers if the main character was good or bad. A tale of mistaken identity after a train derailment leads Helen to assume the life of Patrice. But she did not murde ...more
Randolph Carter
Sep 21, 2013 Randolph Carter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of noir and suspense novels.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gerald Kinro
A Classic from the noir genre set during the Great Depression. A woman befriends a wealthy newlywed couple on a train. During the ride, she somehow “trades places” with the young bride. The train is in an accident, the real married couple dies, and the woman assumes the identity of the rich bride.

This is a fast-paced story that kept me reading on. It had excellent plotting and suspense. A scenario like this would probably not happen in the United States today. Who cares? We are talking noir fic
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Tim
I am a longtime fan of the movies that have been made of some of Woolrich's books - mystery classics like Hitchcock's "Rear Window", and Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black" and "Mississippi Mermaid". There are a number of others too. At his best, his stories are moody, passionate, and mysterious, with fascinating plots and intriguing characters. And like a number of my favorite suspense authors (Patricia Highsmith comes to mind), he wrote about troubled, passionate individuals who stumble into cri ...more
Robin Friedman
Written in 1948, "I Married a Dead Man" by Cornell Woolrich (1903 -- 1968) is a noir novel of suspense and murder. The book is much more than formulaic genre writing as Woolrich explores themes of guilt, loneliness, and personal identity. The pacing of the story changes masterfully with the various twists in the story. The book shows the variety of settings that can be used for noir. Rather than isolated small towns and back roads or the underside of large cities, Woolrich places his story in an ...more
Rob Kitchin
Cornell Woodrich was a prolific writer of short stories and noir novels. His stories were made into 33 noir movies. Published in 1948, I Married A Dead Man was produced as a movie on four occasions. The tale tells the story of a young, pregnant woman who takes the identity of another woman who has died, along with husband, in a train accident, and subsequently lives in fear of being discovered. Whilst the tale is a little melodramatic at times, both the telling and the plot are excellent, with a ...more
Lee
Woolrich with his noir writing style and atmosphere, really bring you into the gloom of his characters. With despair hanging over them, looking over their shoulder into the shawdows. Living in a fog of fear at times, but more like everywhere they turn, there's a street light burned out. Wonderful suspense.
Bill FromPA
I enjoy Woolrich – he manages to set up the most improbable situations with a matter-of-factness that forces the reader to accept them and become involved in the protagonist’s dilemma. But somehow, despite the tense situations in which the characters find themselves, the novels fail to generate the momentum which keeps me turning the pages to find out what happens next. A novel of 200 pages which I might normally finish in 2 or 3 days instead takes me 4 or 5 days. This is not true of his shorter ...more
Laina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Woolrich13
Almost a noir domestic drama and rather paranoid in tone; good but far from the author's best.
D-day
Cornell Woolrich's 'I Married a Dead Man' is a very good psychological tale of a pregnant woman abandoned by her ne'er-do-well boyfriend. While she is on a train going back home she meets another young mother to be and they quickly become friends. The train crashes and in the confusion she assumes the other woman's identity. This is a very well written tale, and Woolrich does a splendid job with the character of Helen/Patrice and her constant fear of living a lie and being found out.
I understand
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Melanie
My first encounter with this story was the Lifetime movie She's No Angel, which of course was melodramitic and a bit silly, but enjoyable if you're in the mood for that. I knew it was based on a book, but couldn't find out which one for a long time. I actually found this book title through another movie adaptation, No Man of Her Own. And when I realized there were five or six movies made from this book, I really wanted to read it. And it is a really good story. Very tense. It makes sense to me t ...more
Andy
This is a very emotional, melodramatic book. I enjoyed it, but it's not what I expected. This isn't hard-boiled, by comparison this feels slow, emotional, thoughtful, sentimental and sad. This is noir; but it's definitely it's own, "gentle" flavor of it. If this was made into a film noir, it would be of the atmospheric sub-genre variety called "woman’s noir." There's some crime and action, but not a lot, and those aren't really what the story is about.

Woolrich generates a good sense of paranoia
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Susan
Aug 17, 2007 Susan marked it as to-read

Kim and I went with our friends Jim and Allen to see Word For Word Productions' version of a Woolrich's "Angel Face" tonight at Theater Artaud. It was a "written word in performance" piece, where the actors acted out the text, with all of the "he said"'s and "then she looked at him blankly"'s spoken aloud. I'd skimmed through a bunch of Woolrich's stuff when I was working on my Pulp novels book, and liked his hardboiled language, but didn't include anything about him. He's been on my list of peo
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Samantha Glasser
Helen is in a bad place. She is pregnant, alone, broke, and has just received a one way ticket to get out of town. She gets to the train late and there are no seats left and she is forced to sit awkwardly on her luggage until a nice newlywed couple offers her his seat and her company. But Helen hasn't hit bottom yet. Soon the train crashes, killing the newlyweds, and Helen is mistaken for Patrice by a family that has never met their daughter-in-law.

The story is pleasant and in a traditional sett
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Joe
A very interesting hidden gem of a novel. A destitute pregnant woman gets on a train as one person and gets off with a new identity. It is a compelling story of what makes us family, how a lie can become the truth, and whether or not another person can ever truly be trusted. But beware the ending is dark, like super dark. But if you can take a nice little nugget of noir, I think you'll enjoy this one.
Susan
1948. Woolrich is best known for having written the short stories on which the movies Rear Window and Phantom Lady are based, the latter which when made into a movie starred Ella Raines and Elisha Cooke, Jr. Although credited with writing compelling noir, this novel was pretty ho hum. Helene, a single pregnant woman, meets Patrice, a married pregnant woman and her husband. The train they are on crashes, and only Helene survives. The husband's family has never met the now dead wife, so Helene pas ...more
Andrew
Great title Woolrich yarn. kinda comic in it's over the top style. not really a page turner in that i'd look forward to it being over, but i do admire his unabashed / bold style.
TrumanCoyote
Talk about a quintessential Woolrich situation. lol I must confess though that I found that whole flapdoodle at the end (and the beginning) a bit hard to fathom...and of course there is always Cornell's tendency to be a ham and overwrite...
William Clemens
This wasn't my favorite of what I have read of Woolrich, but I still couldn't stop turning the pages until I had reached the end

A young woman, pregnant, traveling alone, befriends a couple on a train which is involved in a terrible wreck. A case of mistaken identity leads her into a new life, a safe life for her and her child. Suddenly , her past begins to catch up with her and leads her down a path of torment and damnation.

Like many Woolrich books this is a bleak story. No one ends up happy, no
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Ralph Carlson
Great novel. A novel that no one can go wrong by reading, as can be said about everything else that Woolrich wrote.
Tamara Vallejos
A masterful work of suspense.
Pat
Kinda cute, ok plot, terrible dialogue.

Very glad guys like Bukowski, Chandler and Selby were around to start writing spoken English the way its spoken, and sounds, rather than the way your 4th grade English teacher would have you write. I mean, we've SEEN movies from the 40s and 50's. It's rapid-fire nasal, and filled with slang. Sketchy guys who impregnate, then blackmail teenage girls do not use the impersonal pronoun "one". They probably also don't provide exposition like they're lecturing at
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Andy
Nov 12, 2008 Andy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: spinsters
Shelves: pulp-fiction
Not one of Cornell Woolrich's better works. The movie's been filmed a million times before, you know the story: lonely spinster meets bride-to-be on train that closely resembles her, train crashes, future bride dies and spinster assumes her identity. Yeah, it's that story. Barbara Stanwyck filmed it as "No Man Of Her Own" and Ricki Lake even had a shot at this story a few years ago.

The concept isn't bad but it's not good enough to pad out an entire novel, plus Woolrich is at his sappiest here. S
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Frank
One of the more pointless reissues of old noir fiction (as part of LoA's American Noir of the 40's). As so often in this genre, the execution doesn't live up to the promise of the idea. The interesting premiss (a pregnant girl impersonating the recent wife of rich family's son who died in a train crash, together with his actual wife) is marred by fluffy, old maidenish prose and cringe-inducing melodramatic dialogue. It reads like a 40s film without any of the big stars to redeem its datedness.
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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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