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Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  723 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Fourteen chilling tales from the pioneering women who created the domestic suspense genre

Murderous wives, deranged husbands, deceitful children, and vengeful friends. Few know these characters—and their creators—better than Sarah Weinman. One of today’s preeminent authorities on crime fiction, Weinman asks: Where would bestselling authors like Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton,
Paperback, 356 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Penguin Books
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Deborah Markus
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books that got me through last week. (The other is Ellen Forney's graphic novel Marbles, which I haven't had the guts to review yet because what do I say? Thank you for saving my life when you didn't even know me?)

Anyway. I happened to have this collection from the library, and I opened it up and dove in. It was such a relief to read something that wasn't work-related, or even Goodreads-related. It wasn't going to push me into wild-eyed research mode. It was just a good book a
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
An engrossing collection of stories collected by Sarah Weinman, all of which feature strong women in noir fiction and the subgenre "domestic suspense" and pretty much all of which are from obviously talented and previously successful authors who have since been forgotten or written off as "women's writers." Yes there's the standout big guns, Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson, opening the collection but beyond that if you're not a specialist in the field you may be hard pressed to recognise ...more
Alafair Burke
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What I said: "TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES proves that women were writing smart, dark, twisty tales long before anyone thought to label their work a sub-genre, and often by subverting gendered cultural expectations. Sarah Weinman serves as an expert curator to this wonderful collection, providing a coherent narrative tying these trailblazing stories to one another and to a new wave of female-led psychological suspense. This is a must-read for crime fiction fans."
Carla Remy
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The introduction is terrific, with interesting facts and connections about mystery and pulp and who gets remembered. Highsmith and Shirley Jackson stories are, not surprisingly, amazing, but there are many good ones here. My favorite was The Stranger in the Car by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. It's the longest one in the collection, and I've come to feel that novella length stories are ideal.
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
For my money, one of the hardest things to write is a mystery / crime short story that combines a measure of literary quality and a suspenseful plot. I like my genre fiction to make entertaining use of the conventions and to do it with an engaging style and nuanced vision of the world. Is that asking too much? In my reading experience, the answer too often is, yes. But I'm happy to report that these stories, for the most part, fulfilled my (overly demanding?) expectations, and then some. Aside f ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
A very good anthology of classic crime stories -- there's only one weak item in the bunch -- marred by somewhat sloppy preparation of the editorial apparatus.

The great joys here are the two novellas by two favorite authors of mine, Vera Caspary and the nowadays woefully neglected Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. The former is a beautifully constructed mystery piece and the latter one of those domestic satires/crime stories at which Holding so excelled, complete with that delicious trademark wryness. An
4.5/5. You should definitely pick up this collection if...
... you're a fan of the short fiction of authors such as Roald Dahl, Shirley Jackson or Patricia Highsmith (the latter two both contributed stories to this collection).
... you like eerie domestic suspense stories (many of them with a feminist twist) from the 1940s to 1970s.
... women plotting their husband's murder or nannies becoming a bit too devoted to the children they care for sound like interesting premises to you.
I had such a great
robin friedman
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sisters In Crime

An interest in noir led me to this anthology "Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense" (2013). Edited and with an introduction by Sarah Weinman, this paperback original consists of 14 stories written by women writers from the 1940s through the mid-1970s. Although most of the stories do not fall within the "noir" genre, they all explore human psychology and involve crime and what Weinman calls "domestic suspense". Weinman has an encycl
Betsy Ashton
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories in this collection will keep you awake at night. From the golden age of noir and pulp fiction, these stories are often written by writers you would expect to be writing pulp, but they did.

Like noir everywhere and everywhen, these stories have twists that delight and frighten, often in the same story. "Everybody Needs A Mink" by Dorothy B. Hughes is the story of a housewife and mother out shopping when she passes a fur salon (yes, high end stores still have fur salons). She's
Such an interesting short story compilation. I have to say though that out of 14 stories I really only loved 6, that doesn't mean however, that it wasn't worth reading. I enjoy short stories because they make you stop an think, which is something I did a lot of, and anything that makes me think is worth the read.

OK, months after I've finished this short story collection I'm still thinking about it. I'm also looking
Naomi Young
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who know "sugar and spice" doesn't even begin to cover it
Shelves: uflib
This is a marvelous little collection of short works, ranging from near-novella to quite short, written by women, and published from the 1940s to the mid1970s, before the foundation of Sisters in Crime about a decade later.

Editor Sarah Weinman has selected primarily writers whose reputation has not endured, and especially those who worked mostly or wholly in short fiction. The two exception to this rule are Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson; but their works here are significantly different
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Natsuo Kirino, Vera Caspary, and films like the delightfully sordid Leave Her to Heaven have converted me to the genre of female noir, so I had to have the anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives when it came out. In her introduction, Sarah Weinman makes a good enough case for these foremothers of what she calls "domestic suspense" paved the way for contemporary thriller writers, such as Gillian Flynn.

I did wonder if "domestic" has to mean so white and middle-class, and would've have appreci
Mark Stevens
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
“The Heroine” rocks. It’s a Patricia Highsmith gem—dark and warped. There’s a genuine shudder at the end. It’s pure Highsmith, so matter-of fact. An odd au pair with her own odd ideas about how best to demonstrate her worth. “No lights shone at any of the windows, but if they had, Lucille would not have been deterred. She would not have been deterred had Mr. Christiansen himself been standing there by the fountain, for probably she would not have seen him. And if she had, was she not about to do ...more
Erika Robuck
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I generally refuse books from publishers if they are not historical fiction, but I was intrigued by this collection for a number of reasons. First, I’m falling in love again with short stories. To paraphrase Edgar Allan Poe, it is best to read a story in a single sitting. In my increasingly busy life, I have a new appreciation for fiction that allows me to do this. Also, each story is selected and introduced by editor Sarah Weinman, who has an excellent Twitter account (@SarahW) dealing mostly w ...more
Selaine Henriksen
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love this title. A wonderful title for a wonderful collection of stories. Reading them felt like a home-coming for me. Not that I had read any of them before (except “The People Across The Canyon”. Pretty sure I’d read that before.) — but because these are the kind of short stories I grew up reading. The kind I want to write.

You read for the story but you know the characters completely; the way they speak, think, how much money they have, live. It’s all there, right away, without lots of back st
Lyndsay Faye
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding collection.
Jenny McPhee
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Sarah Weinman, crime fiction connoisseur and editor of the essential new anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, is admirably doing her utmost to revive, restore, and reinvent the once highly-popular thriller subgenre of Domestic Suspense.

Primarily written by women, this fiction penetrates the veneer of familial serenity to the dark side of homelife,
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it

This post is dedicated to readers and writers of mystery and crime fiction, of which I know a few. Sarah Weinman, queen of mystery and crime fiction reviews, has done a great thing. In this collection of stories, subtitled Stories From the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense, she has revived female writers of such stories from the middle third of the 20th century. These women laid the groundwork for Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Tana French, and many more.

I do not generally enjoy short fiction. I am
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book just screamed at me when I saw it at the library--from the cover to the authors inside it was hollerin' my name from the second I saw it. I was so overeager grabbing it from my library's shelf I was a bit embarrassed. I was a bit put off when I started to read the back as I don't read a lot of modern female mystery writers--it was the female noir concept that grabbed me and the amazing authors. I am so glad I grabbed it! This is a book worth owning. So many amazing stories and the idea ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great collection! Just what the doctor ordered :)
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorites are A Nice Place to Stay, The Stranger in the Car, and Mortmain.
Kevin Jones
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of mid-century short stories that were delightfully subversive and filled with unexpected twists! I was only familiar with a few of the authors (Highsmith, Jackson, Millar, and Caspary), so relished the chance to learn about 10 new authors with stories that showed each at the heights of their respective games. My favorite story was also possibly the longest in the collection - Vera Caspary’s SUGAR AND SPICE, a brilliantly told, locked-room mystery of sorts. And Dorothy Sal ...more
Darcie Wilde
Fantastic anthology. Discovered a bunch of new-to-me writers who have turned into favorites.
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of short stories.

Pre-five years old, when we used to go visit our bio-dad, he would often drop us off at his parents' house for the day. His sister still lived with those parents. I would often sneak way in the back of her closet and devour her secret stack of "Tales from the Crypt" comic books. Bio-dad would also let my brother and I stay up late to watch "Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" reruns with him. Those TV shows were often based upon short stories. So beg
When I read anthologies, I never read in the order the stories are presented; it is usually those stories that made me pick up the book in the first place that are read first, then I start picking out titles/authors (and, to be honest, the number of pages if I’m short on time/really bored). When I began reading these, I was not impressed at all. I was familiar with a few of the authors, but it wasn’t until I started reading the ones I hadn’t been familiar with that the book got a bit more intere ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a short story anthology around the theme of women's suspense writing, from the beginning of the genre. It's absolutely one of the best short story anthologies I've read. Most anthologies have trouble with widely variable quality between the short stories, and I come into them expecting that. This one, even the ones that didn't quite work for me were pretty good -- they failed on a level of "I didn't like the twist" rather than general weakness or failure of s ...more
Excellent compilation, I recommend reading the intro to 1) get an understanding of the genre and selection process for this compilation, 2) a quick lesson in revisionist history (the authors in this anthology were not unknowns, their pieces were published, widely circulated, and honoured with awards, in their time. The authors are unknown now because while some male authors of the genre have been uplifted posthumously, no such attention has been given to these authors, making it appear to this g ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nls-audio
If, like me, you read “Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine” as a teenager in the ‘70s, many of the names you remember fondly will appear in this book. Joyce Herrington is here as is Celia Fremlin. That’s just a couple of examples of names that will almost surely bring back memories when EQMM was brilliantly narrated. I’ve stopped reading the NLS edition these days because the narrations are marginal at best too much of the time. But many of the women whose stories appear in this anthology will be fa ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I ordered this from the library because it was recommended as a precursor to the current "domestic suspense" genre (whose birth is sometimes attributed to Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel Gone Girl) -- and suggested that Sarah Weinman had coined the phrase. Whether she did or not is actually unimportant. The key here is that this is a collection of short stories, published after WWIi up to the seventies, written by a group of accomplished women suspense writers. (Domestic suspense is not only a female ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, short-stories
As always seems to happen with short story collections, I loved some of these while others didn't speak to me at all. Overall, though, there are some resonant scenes in this collection, even in those stories I didn't really understand, plotwise. I found the most effective stories were the shortest. I'm not sure if this is a coincidence.

Each short story is prefaced by a page or two about the author who wrote it. I read these after reading the stories, because they seemed more relevant to me that
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Sarah Weinman is a journalist, editor, and crime fiction authority from Brooklyn, New York.


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