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Before the Fact

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  91 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, 278 pages
Published April 1947 by Pocket Book (first published 1932)
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  429 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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``Laurie Henderson
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
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wanda, Laura
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Carey Combe
Oct 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
I reached page 101 before giving up completely. I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Here are my reasons…
Indecencies hinted at or alluded to in nearly every section. I suppose they were handled semi-delicately but there was disguising what they were talking about.
Foul language. It just kept getting stronger, and I’d had enough.
Not one character with any sort of moral backbone. Not one. Everyone is having affairs most likely multiple ones. I reached the point where even the ‘heroine’ was counseled to go
Apr 30, 2010 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Its not like the story was not well written
Its not like it wasn't interesting

It was the heroine.

I wanted to finish this book, honestly. I have a short list of things that prompt me to abandon a book. I have abandoned very few books in the years I've been reading all things considered. But I just couldn't go on with this. As I mentioned, it was the infernal heroine. She infuriated me to the point that I couldn't any more with her. She didn't have a lick of sense, and chose to embrace spaghetti
D. H.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel challenges the criteria I developed for rating books.

Before the Fact is compelling. Mr Iles's prose are good, and moments flow easily into one another. Even though the storytelling takes place, for the most part, within narration and not scenes, which isn't to my taste, the novel is easy to read.

What's more, it made me feel something and is unforgettable.

But... the feeling it gave me was frustration. As readers we are always extremely far ahead of the plot, not only expecting and pred
Michael Stewart
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent source novel for Hitchcock's SUSPICION.

It's a psychological study of a narcissistic sociopath (is there any other kind?) Johnny and his richer wife Lina. Her reaction to discovering some of his nefarious deeds is a passive-aggressive withholding of money but never truly holding him to legal accountability. I found myself resenting her moreso than him, as she ultimately had the power to disinvolve herself but she chose to be terrified rather than escape.

It's a well-written thriller with
Ben Loory
read this because it was the basis for Hitchcock's SUSPICION and I always wondered if the book was any better. Answer: not really, though the ending is pretty delightfully twisted. It's a real slow burn waiting for it to get there though, without a lot to look at on the way.
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Love is not only blind. It's also deaf, dumb and pretty stupid too!"

That's pretty much the gist of this novel.

The main character's stupidity was so annoying that I found myself wanting to scream. Although, the psychological aspect was fine.

It wasn't really my cup of tea, but it was a fine experience.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
A lot has been said about this book, and the movie Hitchcock made out of it, by many people. I can only add that I bought and read the Dutch translation 40 years ago and it is still one of my favorites. I thought the movie was interesting but I prefer the ending of the book.
Lady Delacour
This was an enjoyable listen.
I liked the 1932 writing style.
The Hitchcock movie Suspicion
was based off this book.
Narrator Bruce Montague
was very entertaining.
A few mild foul words.
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. This is the novel from which Hitchcock based his movie Suspicion. Famously, Hitchcock had the end of the movie taken from him because the studio said that Cary Grant could not be a murderer. So, the book is much darker, probably closer to what Hitchcock had in mind. Johnny is a pure rotter, a thief, forger, adulterer, liar and, yes, a murderer. This is not a spoiler. The reader is told on the first page that Johnny is a murderer.
Jul 26, 2015 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
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Jill Hutchinson
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
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
Vanessa Hatcher
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christine Sinclair
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ;)
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.
Carey Combe
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Darkly compelling.
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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
“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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